Minneapolis Park Board may consider Park Police cuts if mayor doesn’t grant levy increase

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board wants more money in 2020 - $1.5 million more to be exact. If they don’t get it, some commissioners are threatening to potentially make cuts to Minneapolis Park Police.

“Everything will be on the table if the mayor doesn’t support our tax levy that we’re asking for,” said Park Board Commissioner AK Hassan.

The Park Board is asking for an eight percent tax levy increase that would largely fund youth programs. 

Mayor Jacob Frey recently vetoed the proposal, prompting some commissioners to propose looking for cuts elsewhere in the park budget so the programming could still be implemented.

“I’m looking for cuts everywhere, and it could mean cuts to Park Police,” said Commissioner Londel French.

“I think our kids don’t need more policing; they need more programs,” said Hassan.

A spokesperson for Frey’s office said he doesn’t support the levy because he already allocated the board an extra $1.23 million in addition to the mutually agreed upon $2.5 million budget. 

“The Mayor’s 2020 budget increases the Park Board budget by millions of dollars, and the Park Board is requesting even more,” read a statement from Mayor Frey’s office. “As to how the money is allocated, that is the Park Board’s decision to make.”

“It’s an unwarranted war,” said Park Board Commissioner Meg Forney. “Going outside the board and saying we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do that—those are threats, and they are empty threats.”

Commissioner Forney supports youth programing, but not at the cost of cutting Park Police.

“If we want to service our youth, we need to make sure they’re safe and if we deny them something such as our police, they’re not going to be safe in the parks,” said Forney.

Park Board President Brad Bourn would not say if he supported cutting funds to Park Police Tuesday, instead saying he “supports the best possible solution to fund youth programs.” He said if the levy isn’t approved, he supports making cuts in the budget to pay for the programming.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation will vote on the levy September 25.