Discussion with the Saint Paul City Council on the 2020 proposed budget

Discussion with the Saint Paul City Council on the 2020 proposed budget, a recap of August 28th Community Meeting

The following are notes that capture the ideas and topics that at each ward discussed in their breakout session. They are not intended to be quotes, you may notice each note-taker had a different style.  The main themes were captured on a presentation to the City Council at the Budget Committee Meeting September 4, 2019.

  • What input does the district council have in the budget process?
  • Concerned about Ayd Mill -Transit and traffic congestion?
  • Public safety is most important, we need more police and clean it up.
  • No more police or sro’s, feel threatened by police. (one agreed)
  • Police are not mental health workers.
  • SRO=security resource officers. Should be reallocated to mental health/social workers (school contracts with SPPD)
  • Invest in front end of the human life, children, early education, parks.
  • More into minimum wage enforcement
  • Invest in the front end of life (not crimes of poverty and police)
  • Don’t cut 5 cops
  • Don’t spend money on Ayd Mill road
  • Questions on budget/investment in libraries
  • If you look at population per officers, we are 150 officers short
  • Some in favor and some were not in favor of Ayd Mill road
  • Need improvements in pedestrian crossings and traffic safety additions
  • I want to be safe as a pedestrian and I want roads improved so they are passable. 
  • Being a pedestrian in this city is taking your life in your hands
  • Hope there is a traffic study before Ayd Mill road
  • Concerned Ayd Mill road traffic will shift to Lexington (not good)
  • Need city transportation plan to look at full picture, not just completing the bicycle loop(rail cars, bikes, ped, cars, bus etc)
  • People are hungry to be connected and involved, would like to see more funding for community engagement and other community process. More district council funding
  • It is very hard to communicate wishes of people with council at large and mayor’s office. Needs to be level of trust vs check the box approach. City has lost trust of stake holders.
  • Can HR deputy director be repurposed to a liaison position that connects community and to departments
  • Space for people to enjoy things (cards games, chess games), need a shift of kindness and community to be proud of
  • What evidence is there of elected officials listening? Will there be a shift?
  • Should have participatory budgeting process (80% people don’t trust gov)
  • Hire consultant to facilitate for participartory budgeting – voting
  • City has to budget economically and socially. Look for a solution beyond 2020, now council makes budget decisions.
  • Assume there will be a large public process for Ayd Mill road.  What to learn more, applaud the idea, but what about traffic
  • Understand alternative uses of Ayd Mill, need to study
  • What was the Mayor’s decision making process for Ayd Mill
  • Ramsey County charges 10% fee for trash pickup, is that factored into city rates
  • Investment more in city data- for law enforcement, landlords/tenants, property ranking a-d for apartments, and more
  • Improve strength of district councils. Why don’t council and mayor agree with district councils? Comp plan was an example.
  • How much are we investing in affordable housing?
  • Are we using a method to coach families through the process of navigating housing and homelessness issues?
  • Where are we in the process of getting rid of parking minimums
  • Some residents are car free, supports Ayd Mill Road, thinks it’s a very good project
  • Member of 350, wants action on climate, supports Ayd Mill Road
  • Supports Ayd Mill, wants much more funding for public works – specifically for pedestrian and bike improvements
  • Wants action on police brutality, has a family member who was killed by SPPD, how are we supporting families who are suffering because of police brutality?
  • Supports Ayd Mill Road. Wants a focus on maintaining our infrastructure. Wants a focus on protecting the most vulnerable (low income residents without housing, new arrivals who may be targeted, people of color)
  • With Root and Restore. Wants to change the way we spend on policing. Wants funding for restorative justice in the form of housing, job training, etc
  • Lives car free. Supports Ayd Mill. Questions the need for the K9 unit considering it gets us sued so much. Wants the “new policing strategies” like mental health unit to be outsourced to staff who actually specialize in that work. Do not train existing cops to be mental health specialists
  • Affordable housing was a top priority listed from the Mayor’s budget engagement meetings so that should be reflected in the budget. PED needs an increase to meet those needs.
  • We need to push for parking costs to be unbundled from rents residential and commercial tenants pay
  • Wants a focus on affordable housing. Wants more solar on new development. Supports Ayd Mill. Wants bike lanes on Hamline that were promised previously
  • Supports Ayd Mill. Great way to connect to midtown greenway. Wants more investment in bike and pedestrian infrastructure
  • The idea of a livable city is appealing. Rode the bus when she moved here. Multimodal options very important. Renters deserve options to get around that don’t require a car
  • Supports Ayd Mill. Wants Hamline bike lanes. Wants bike plan to be implemented faster and not require so many meetings to re approve the same bike plan we already approved
  • Supports Ayd Mill Road
  • Supports Ayd Mill Road. Most exciting road news she’s heard in St Paul. Let’s do even more and let’s go BIG
  • Climate change is here. Need to be aggressive in reducing the use of cars.
  • Need more parking meters.
  • Supports Ayd Mill Road. Wants to explore congestion pricing.
  • Love the increased engagement early in the budget process
  • City government is a log. When you turn it over, there are lots of bugs underneath. Supports Ayd Mill.
  • Wants police reform.
  • New strategies for dealing with issues at Hamline Park
  • Generally ok with government spending his tax dollars.
  • Supports Ayd Mill, it’s a cost effective project. We’re in a climate crisis. Need to move away from cars
  • Not a biker, but Charles Ave bike blvd was supposed to get 11 round-a-bouts. Wants them installed so it can slow traffic for kids in the neighborhood
  • Housing for most vulnerable is important. City and County need to have a transparent, efficient strategy to tackle that together. Transit and transportation options of all kinds is really important, especially for low income people. Rides the train a lot and sees people using it
  • Transportation demand management plans need extra enforcement. Parking maximums need to be improved, parking minimums removed, separate costs of parking from units so cost of parking is transparent
  • Minimum wage enforcement and education needs investment
  • Are we exploring PILOT that can bring in revenue from our large nonprofits?
  • Thank you for increasing engagement in the budget process. This should be a people’s budget
  • Thank you for listening to families who have suffered from police brutality. Just being given the space to talk about it is meaningful.

 

What is the most important thing you want the City to prioritize?

  • Be sustainable with energy use, clean air & water, fierce, serious, fast changes made; solar panels and incentives, need shorter-term goals
  • Ayd Mill Bike Lane project, struck by car on Minnehaha, trying to reduce congestion and had to take off work for two days
  • Referendum, 70% tax requirement, wants to sign pro-truth pledged, know ahead of time what’s actual and factual and doesn’t account for trash lawsuit
  • Better communication around urban planning; most people lack the understanding
  • Not in favor of Ayd Mill Road;
  • Continue to put pressure on State for LGA funds, hospitals, churches, large non-profits, taking care of their lights, roads, etc.
  • Favor of Ayd Mill Road and hit by car before; more planning is required and putting bike lane & connecting to other bike lanes, connecting to St. Paul bike system and don’t want the money to pave the road
  • Bad repairs on roads, can’t go in straight line, infrastructures need funding, and there’s a bike plan that has the plan and no reason to oppose the project
  • Sustainability is critical and we can do more; important to not cut public safety and community services; important to the issue, lives near Ayd Mill Road for 20-23 years; we should go to two lanes with bike path
  • commutes on Ayd Mill Road, goes to Apple Valley and drive it every day, making it a two-lane is best to accommodate; worst is the pot-hole but would like to connect a bikeway
  • financial responsibilities are why we need to reduce the car traffic and last longer and less cost to upkeep it and converting the other two to bike lanes, supports connection through “Bridge 9”
  • environmental justice hurts working people, voice is for working poor and that’s housing, people on fixed-incomes, and there was no affordability to stay in the house; public safety is categorized by police and fire but need parks and rec to support kids and the safety of kids; definition should be expanded; centering the working poor; $5 rec-check, needs to be done
  •  Expand definition of public safety; need to support and invest in the infrastructure – specifically is pothole repair
  • What makes a city work for all of us? Deep affordable housing, St. Paul houses are old and there’s not a lot of money coming from the general fund
  • Vacant housing needs to be turned over into low-income housing; affordable housing is not affordable at the AMI, affordable housing where the actual housing is something you can afford
  • Housing – people can’t be in the ward, increase density, adding duplex, fourplex, ADU to increase density, transportation/transit will be more efficient and make things closer together, make more multi-modal, and share the tax burden to allow more housing; favor of Ayd Mill Road
  • Support of organized collection and single hauler; continue the support of, reduce the pressure on the alley, do the tweaks to share the trash cans and
  • Safety and housing, biking infrastructure to bike, walk, and use transit, Ayd Mill Road support
  • Dog park – house abuts alley, no parking, no discussion, eliminate the exit and expand to the community garden, kids play football there
  • Parks and green space needed; there was a park there and it wasn’t maintained; concerned that if the green space is going to be used for parking lot
  • Hillcrest Golf Course – being divided up and into concrete structures; need to add park
  • Removing Highland Stadium and non-permeable surfaces
  • Tying it together Ayd Mill Road, sustainability, put more people onto public transportation, better for us and cheaper
  • If we build Ayd Mill to the road it’ll be easier to tie them together
  •  Ayd Mill Road – it’s on a creek bed. Why not use traffic calming? Important to end sexual violence is accountability is through law enforcement; good stuff happening and hiring 9 police officers to serve domestic assault; discussions with police and chief – ensure that it’s not on the backs of victims of domestic violence, look at how money is being spent, standard operations procedures; think about the time that it takes to respond and that it takes hours to get a patrol officer to your house; there are smart ways to cut; Sergeants are the only ones who can investigate; where are the cuts coming from in the police department??
  • Increase in domestic calls, acknowledge the leadership of police, and have had a few officer-involved shootings and it has changed; shots-fired have gone down, and the
  • Family of business owner, drought in investment of business of owners of color, capital being invested into large businesses; negotiate with large businesses and workers are going to cut out; how do we carve out space for small businesses to survive and stay here?
  • Due for a recession, which services are going to be impacted? Are they going to be harmed? Plan ahead for a recession;
  • Two and half blocks from Ayd Mill Road, before it was a test, studied, and not studied just done; and a lot of people;
  • 200 units put up, a lot of people in places where there’s development; very expensive, no green spaces
  • We need attended green spaces for public spaces; Ayd Mill Road has no access to unless they have car access; we need recreational spaces on Ayd Mill Road; would love to have access to green recreational space; no schools/parks/no space there
  • Density needs to include recreational spaces

What’s missing from the Mayor’s budget?

  • Mental health investments
  • Coordination of chemical dependency services
  • Homelessness services/coordination
  • Sustainability coordination with other government entities such as the school; initiatives with solar panels on school buildings needed
  • Support for small businesses
  • The budget doesn’t address and plan for the coordinated trash collection ballot; what’s the city’s plan? The city needs to be transparent and open about what the possibilities are instead of just saying that property taxes are going to increase to pay for the contract.
  • There needs to be a plan for forecasting for another recession. We are at a high right now, but what will happen when it goes into a recession again?

What should be reconsidered from the budget?

  • Rec check fee needs to be looked at again because there are low-income families that do not qualify for free/reduced lunch and Medicaid.
  • The online portal from DSI needs to be reconsidered if there are not adequate staff available for the development of the Ford Site
  • We need to push for LGA; how can we help the City? Can we all organize to contact our state representatives?

Check-out

  • Folks wanted to continue the conversations and appreciated the candied discussions.
  • They want more frequent communications and want to know when the community conversations are occurring.
  • People heard the different opinions and different funding priorities, the conversation left some people feeling the levity of the budget decisions ahead.