The Minneapolis City Council found enough money in the budget yesterday to hold off reducing its police force for a year, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The council has yet to figure out how to keep the force from dropping 139 officers by 2010 even with 8 percent annual increases in property tax collections. It will explore increasing business license fees as a way to keep cops on the streets. Members agreed to consider letting neighborhood groups use Neighborhood Revitalization Program grants to hire police. Most on the council and Mayor R.T. Rybak said the city faces a serious problem with public safety funding. “We just have to keep working on one tough choice after another. There is no magic solution,” he said.
The police force is down 150 officers from a high in 1997 of 938. “It’s bad,” said one officer. “Murder’s up. Rape’s up. Robbery’s up. Response time is up.” Public Safety Committee Chairman Dan Niziolek casting the lone “no” vote on the budget, which he said doesn’t do enough to address concerns about the reductions in the police force. By city projections, the force was to be reduced by 43 officers in 2005. In his proposed budget earlier this year, Rybak saved all but nine of the jobs.