Minneapolis Park Board adopts 2024 Budget focusing on caring for park assets, protecting the environment and serving the city’s youth
REPOST FROM MINNEAPOLIS PARK NEWS 12/6/23
At their December 5 meeting, the Board of Commissioners adopted a 2024 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) that focuses caring for park amenities and infrastructure, protecting the environment and natural resources it manages, and serving the youth of Minneapolis through quality programming.
“This budget aligns with the priorities and strategic directions of the Board, and will have lasting impacts, for generations to come,” said Board President Meg Forney. “I’m particularly proud of the work commissioners and staff did with the Mayor, City Council Members and City staff to address the funding needed to improve the quality of our parkways and waterbodies, critical assets that define our city’s quality of life. These two actions reflect our strong partnership with the city of Minneapolis, with each organization leading from its strengths.”
In April, Park Commissioners passed two resolutions to request the City of Minneapolis increase funding for paving and restoration of parkways and to establish dedicated stormwater utility fee funding to support management of MPRB-owned stormwater infrastructure on parkland. Negotiations with the Mayor and City staff began and culminated in August with Mayor Frey’s 2024 Recommended Budget including new funding for MPRB stormwater infrastructure starting in 2024 and parkway repairs starting in 2025.
“It’s an honor to serve as the Superintendent of such a locally and nationally acclaimed park system, and to work in collaboration with Commissioners, staff and our partners on this budget,” said Al Bangoura, Superintendent. “Minneapolis parks are an important resource to residents and to everyone who makes up the 30 million visits our parks receive annually. State legislators, City of Minneapolis leadership, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, the Mississippi Watershed District and many other important partners continue to invest in the park system. Together we can dramatically impact people’s lives by improving our communities, delivering meaningful services, and meeting the diverse needs of Minneapolis residents and park visitors from near and far.”
The 2024 Budget totals $157.1 million, including $103.2 million for the general operating fund, $17.3 million for the enterprise operating fund, $2.3 million for the special revenue fund and $34.3 million for capital project funding. The budget utilizes the maximum 5.35 percent tax levy approved by the Board of Estimate and Taxation in September. The MPRB’s 5.35 percent property tax levy increase will result in a 0.94 percent increase in city property taxes overall, which amounts to an approximate $17 annual increase in property taxes for owners of a median $329,000 value home.
The adopted budget maintains current service levels, including inflationary pressures impacting the MPRB budget and $260,000 needed to support the MPRB’s 2021 six-year arrangement with the City for the historic $2.6 million youth investment that began in 2022. The budget includes $124,000 to support the Board adopted Strategic Direction D – Care for Park Assets to Meet Evolving Needs and Practices. This care of park assets investment will provide for an analyst as the MPRB moves to identify and implement an asset management lifecycle for asset types within the MPRB system. The addition of the position will be utilized towards the maximization of existing funding for maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and capital.
The 2024 adopted budget supports the neighborhood park and regional park capital investments and utilizes criteria-based systems for project scheduling. Racial equity work continues to be demonstrated in the Superintendent’s Recommended 2024 Budget in five distinct areas: 2024 department budget actions; neighborhood park capital improvement and rehabilitation funding; regional park capital improvement funding; recreation center funding; and 2024 budget adjustments.
This budget also supports the MPRB’s commitment to strategic long-term planning through the 2023-2026 Strategic Directions, Performance Goals, and Priority Comprehensive Plan Strategies adopted by the Board in May 2022. The five strategic directions are: act boldly for our climate; cultivate each community’s place and honor cultural traditions in Minneapolis parks; implement quality youth and intergenerational programs; care for park assets to meet evolving needs and practices; and steward our natural resources.
Strategic Direction A – Act boldly for our climate future
The Board is committed to act boldly for our climate future through a reduction of carbon footprint, implementing resiliency projects in service area master plans and the ecological system plan and by analyzing park visitor modes of park access to create baseline data for future decision-making. This budget supports these goals through the department budget actions, the construction of the Graco Park building which will be the first net-zero building in the MPRB system, exploration of the Xcel Energy – Solar™Rewards Community, and the continued use of formal criteria for evaluating equipment purchases and replacements to reduce fuel consumption, minimize pollution and emissions, and improve operations.
Strategic Direction B – Cultivate each community’s place and honor cultural traditions in Minneapolis parks
The MPRB mission looks to dismantle historic inequities in the provision of park and recreation opportunities for all people and the Board seeks to cultivate each community’s place and honor cultural traditions in Minneapolis parks through enhanced and unified organization-wide volunteer management and through enhanced community safety and Park Police engagement activities. This budget supports these goals through the department budget actions and the addition of positions that will add capacity to support volunteer engagement including a Volunteer Program Aide, Horticulture Crew Leader, and a certified part-time .75 FTE program administrator. The budget also supports completing the work on the development and delivery of Indigenous Acknowledgement training and the development of an Indigenous Reconciliation Plan that began in 2023.
Strategic Direction C – Implement quality youth and intergenerational programs
In 2021, through the culmination of significant work and collaboration with the Mayor and City staff, a historic $2.6 million investment in youth was realized through a six-year funding agreement that includes a combination of property tax levy and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. This budget provides for year three of this agreement and includes a property tax levy increase of $260,000 and continuation of the ARPA funding in 2024. This Board is committed to implementing quality youth and intergenerational programs and ensure its success through program capacity measurement, multi-tiered program evaluation, and enrollment tracking. This budget supports these goals through the department budget actions; implementation of an upgraded on-line registration system that will improve user experience and support data collection for tracking and reporting; additional part-time inclusion staff hours for Rec Plus; and the continuation of free youth programming in areas of Minneapolis with the greatest need. This budget also includes increases in fees based on comparative market rates and a reduction in contractual services to offset and reduce the amount expected to be raised by grants and donations. This budget also supports the $1.5 million in youth employment funding received during the 2023 state legislative session and the addition of a Naturalist Program Coordinator focused on youth and teen programming.
Strategic Direction D – Care for park assets to meet evolving needs and practices
One of the most consistent messages received from all Commissioners is the desire to care for park assets to meet evolving needs and practices. The Board is committed to increase the rate of parkway repaving or reconstruction, increase the percentage of assets that are within their expected lifespan, establish service standard levels for the top assets within the park system, and increase the advancement of policy items identified in the system-wide master plan implementation tracker. This budget supports these goals through the department budget actions; the implementation of the parkway investment; the implementation of the Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund; implementation of the next generation of asset management software with enhanced capabilities; and the reallocation of resources to fund needed positions in the Asset Management Department. This budget includes an analyst to support the work to identify and implement an asset management lifecycle for asset types within the MPRB system; a reclassification of a vacant Horticulturalist to a Horticulture Crew Leader, conversion of seasonal parkkeeper hours to a full-time parkkeeper, conversion of seasonal mobile equipment operator (MEO) hours to a full-time MEO; and the addition of a HVAC Technician.
Strategic Direction E – Steward our natural resources
The Board acknowledges its role as the steward of the park system’s natural resources and commits to natural area management, growing the public tree canopy, and improving water quality through best management practices. This budget supports these goals through the department budget actions; enhanced natural area management through on-going state operations and maintenance funding; implementation of the Stormwater Enterprise Fund; and the planting of at least two trees for every tree removed focused in the two major heat islands within Minneapolis through the ARPA funding received in 2024. This budget also supports participation in the Urban Tree Carbon Offset Program through the partnership with Green Minneapolis. This budget includes a Volunteer Program Aide II and seasonal Natural Resources Specialists to support natural area management; and the addition of an engineer and an increase to part-time provisional staff hours funded through the Stormwater Enterprise Fund.
Departmental initiatives and changes for 2024 include:
Asset Management – includes the addition of an analyst to support the work to identify and implement an asset management lifecycle for asset types within the MPRB system; the replacement of the enterprise asset management software; the reallocation of resources to fund needed positions including a reclassification of a vacant Horticulturalist to a Horticulture Crew Leader, conversion of seasonal parkkeeper hours to a full-time parkkeeper, conversion of seasonal mobile equipment operator (MEO) hours to a full-time MEO, the addition of a HVAC Technician, and the reduction of contractual services; and a slight increase of 520 seasonal parkkeeper and MEO hours and supplies for system equity investment related to the MPRB entering into an agreement to add two dog parks to the MPRB’s system.
Athletic Programs, Aquatics, Golf & Ice Arenas – includes the addition of a full-time Athletic Program Specialist , part-time provisional staff hours, and an sports officials’ pay increase; the addition of three seasonal pool managers one at each outdoor pool facility; and the inclusion of revenue and staffing at Phillips Pool to host the adult masters program displaced by the YWCA’s impending closure; an increase in adult athletic revenue based on league and participant expansion; increase to non-MPRB teams’ youth field permit fee based on market rates; an increase to water park entry fees, golf fees and ice arena rental fees based on market rates; the introduction of Golf Simulators at Columbia Golf Course; and the introduction of wall and/or rink sponsorships at the ice arenas.
Communications and Marketing – includes an increase to contractual services for the development and implementation of a multi-faceted advertising campaign to improve awareness of and participation in park programs by Minneapolis residents, including multilingual residents.
Environmental Management – includes the establishment of the Stormwater Enterprise Fund supported by the City utility fee and includes the addition of engineer and part-time provisional staffing; the establishment of a natural resources management special revenue fund supported by state operations and maintenance funding and includes a Volunteer Program Aide and three seasonal Natural Resources Specialists; the addition of a certified part-time (0.75 FTE) program administrator for the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden funded through a reduction in part-time provisional staff hours, increased program revenue, and financial support from the Loppet Foundation; the conversion of part-time provisional hours to a full-time Naturalist Program Coordinator focused on youth and teen programming; the receipt of a $1.5 million direct youth employment grant from the State of Minnesota; and a slight increase to material and supplies and slight decrease to contractual services.
Finance – includes the addition of a full-time Accounting Technician and elimination of 561 part-time urban scholar hours; a slight increase to P-Card rebate revenues; and an increase to the Enterprise Fund overhead charge.
Forestry – includes a reduction of a vacant, full-time MEO based on department needs which was utilized to address other Environmental Stewardship Division needs.
Park Police – supports system equity investment with the addition of 520 park patrol agent hours.
Superintendent’s Office – includes the elimination of the Grant and Donation Administrator position to fund other General Fund needs.
Visitor Services – includes a slight shift in staffing (0.15 FTE) from the Enterprise Fund to the General Fund to better align time allocations between functions; a one-time use of the Regional Park Amenity fund to replace the boats used to access moored sailboats; and a slight increase in revenue for a new sign fee.
Youth and Recreation Center Programs – continues implementation of the historic investment in youth and intergenerational programming including department budget actions to develop a capacity measurement, multi-tiered program evaluation tool, and enrollment tracking to ensure successful implementation of quality programs; also includes an increase to Rec Plus fees based on market rates and the addition of 1040 part-time inclusion facilitator hours to support Rec Plus; also includes a decrease in contractual services.
The budget and related documents are available for viewing at www.minneapolisparks.org/budget.