St. Paul, Minn. (August 11, 2010) – After four years of work to maintain city services and programs in a difficult economy, Mayor Chris Coleman announced Wednesday that the 2011 budget would mean no new or raised taxes in Saint Paul. Coleman said this is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of City employees and residents, the budget furthers Saint Paul as a national model for fiscal responsibility.
“This budget reflects our commitment to providing better service at a better price. In these past four years, we have made tough choices and sacrifices in the face of an economic recession and cuts to LGA,” said Coleman. “This year the state kept it’s commitment to provide Minnesota cities with stable funding, and in turn we are able to keep taxes flat for residents in 2011. We must not focus on rebuilding Saint Paul while laying the foundation for a growing economy.”
Coleman announced that the City will invest $140,000 in the Parks and Recreation department, allowing them to increase staff and expand hours in Community Centers, while increasing outreach for our North End Teen Center, No School Days and Summer Blast programs.
Funding reallocation is also to intended to improve the capacity of city libraries for increased multilingual programming, including an additional staff person, and more services to meet the growing diversity of residents.
With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the library recently launched the Mobile WORKplace initiative, bringing laptops out into the community and providing classes on computer literacy. Many of the students in these classes had never touched a computer or used a word processing program, which is often a requirement for twenty-first century jobs.
By offering ten classes a week in languages such as Somali, Spanish and Hmong and English, Coleman said the city is educating residents who are otherwise unable to come into a library for a class.
A Web site, LinkUpSaintPaul.org was launched Wednesday as an innovative way to connect parents and youth with activities offered by the city and more than 50 community organizations. He said this allows residents to easily locate quality out-of-school-time programming in their neighborhood.
Parks and Recreations will also receive $160,000 to provide a career skills component to their Youth Jobs Corps initiative. Jobs Corps employees will now receive training in computer skills; resume writing, interview preparation, developing a career path and college access information. The department will also expand the Job Corps program, reaching out to older youth and young adults who don’t meet current age requirements.
Construction of the Central Corridor is set to begin on University in 2011. The billion dollar infrastructure project is estimated to reach completion in 2014.
Coleman said the city has made an investment in the streetscape improvements and parking mitigation along the Central Corridor.
In addition to the Central Corridor, Mayor Coleman said work would also begin on replacing the Lafayette and Cayuga bridges. The Lafayette Bridge replacement is a $200 million project using state and federal funds.
When completed, the bridge will be a “complete streets” bridge, providing bicycle and pedestrian connections from downtown and the East Side to the West Side, Dakota County and beyond.
The Cayuga Bridge project will create a full access interchange between Phalen Boulevard and I-35E. The new bridge will fulfill the Phalen Boulevard promise of providing new employers with a direct connection to I-35E and the regional transportation network.
The budget invests $500,000 in police and fire departments, providing for better equipment, increased training and faster response times.
The Police Department will utilize their $200,000 to add six additional Sergeants and a Commander who will be assigned to the newly formed FBI Safe Streets initiative. Police will also replace 610 guns and offer three additional training opportunities throughout the year.
For the Fire Department, $300,000 will maintain staffing and allow for two additional Supermedic Teams, shortening fire and EMS response times.