Mayor Chris Coleman laid out his structurally balanced 2012 budget for Saint Paul today, continuing to invest in the city while making strategic cuts.
The budget focused on preserving public safety services, advancing education and investing in the city’s future. The budget was crafted after the state legislature handed down heavy cuts to Saint Paul at the end of the special session in July.
“I believe that you need look no further than the city of Saint Paul to see how to properly manage a budget,” Mayor Coleman said. “This budget prioritizes public safety, emphasizes our work surrounding education and moves our city forward with smart investments in critical infrastructure.”
Saint Paul will shoulder a total of $15.6 million in cuts from the state for the remaining 5 months of the 2011 fiscal year and $12 million in local government aid cuts in 2012.
To offset the $12 million LGA cut in 2012, Mayor Coleman proposed $6.2 million in cuts to city departments and a 6.5 percent increase in the 2012 property tax levy. Despite the cost pressures of rising health care costs, energy costs and inflation, Mayor Coleman’s proposed General Fund budget actually spends less in 2012 than in 2011.
“We are holding the line on spending in Saint Paul to ensure we maintain the value of service our community has come to expect,” Coleman said. “But a structurally balanced approach allows us to make several investments in programs across the city and improve our services. Working together, we will continue our goal of making Saint Paul the most livable city in America.”
Mayor Coleman’s budget will maintain the current strength of the police and firefighter force, as well as the city attorney staff. Full funding for a police and fire department fleet will put new, more efficient vehicles and equipment on the streets in 2012.
The City will continue to invest in Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and our Sprockets out-of-school-time network throughout 2012, and libraries and recreation centers will stay open, keeping the minds of students across the city engaged. Libraries will face a modest reduction in hours.
“We have reshaped the role that the city plays in education,” Mayor Coleman said. “From the work around the Promise Neighborhoods to the network of out-of-school-time learning opportunities through Sprockets, we recognize that every department can play a part in our education work.”
Having achieved structurally balanced budgets since 2007, Saint Paul was able to absorb the substantial cut to its 2011 budget without cutting services in these last five months of the fiscal year. Instead, the city will use a combination of cost-saving moves, careful budget management and a dip into its fund balance to offset the cut.