|Letter to Minneapolis Residents from NRP Director Bob Miller
|July 10, 2001
The 2001 session of the Minnesota State Legislature has concluded and I want you to know, as clearly as possible, the implications for the present and future of the NRP. For the past 10 years, NRP has helped neighborhoods develop Neighborhood Action Plans, identify priorities, create solutions and implement strategies. The commitment in the original legislation establishing NRP was for a $20 million per year program for the 20 years between 19902009.
The Minnesota Legislature has changed that commitment by eliminating much of the funding stream that has previously been used to support NRP and its activities. The impact has occurred because of the compression of property tax rates and the reallocation of education costs, and their tax support base, from the local to the state level. The result has been a loss of revenue that now makes fully funding NRP until 2009 a real challenge.
To all of you who helped contact legislators and the Governors Office, our warmest thanks. More than 5,000 calls, e-mails and letters were sent supporting NRP. Unfortunately, NRP was only a minor part of the drama that became this legislative session. Now we have to deal with the results of the legislative actions that occurred. First and foremost are the impacts on neighborhood activities. These fall into two categories: the impacts on Phase I and the existing commitments to neighborhoods; and the impacts on the future.
The concerns that were raised during the legislative session about potential loss of revenues already appropriated for Phase I have been addressed. The strategies in approved Neighborhood Action Plans will be fully funded. The commitments made during Phase I will be kept and neighborhoods can proceed with implementation and contracting just as planned.
The impacts on the future are very different. The best information available at this time indicates that Phase II cannot be fully funded through either the Common Project TIF revenues or the development account that has also helped pay for NRP in the past. It is not yet clear how much will be available from these sources and a working group appointed by the Mayor and City Council is considering options. As one of the members of that group, I will be working to ensure that every effort will be made to fully fund the commitment that was originally made to the residents of the City when NRP was established.
Without assurance that the funds for the second ten years will be available, however, I have no choice but to recommend to the Policy Board that we immediately suspend the processing of any commitments that would be paid for out of Phase II funds. This includes the Affordable Housing and Commercial Area Development Reserve Funds. Projects submitted by the July 13 deadline for the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund will be held for future evaluation when the resource commitment for Phase II is clarified.
The neighborhoods most directly affected by this change in NRPs financial situation are the ones that are eligible to begin their Phase II planning effort. To those neighborhoods, I suggest that you continue with your Phase I reviews and identification of your neighborhoods priorities. It is my hope that the resource commitments for Phase II will be in place before you complete these tasks.
During these uncertain times, I want to encourage you to continue with your efforts to make your neighborhoods better places to live, work, learn and play. Neighborhood associations and residents have helped change the city, and this is not a time for despair, regret or resignation. It is an opportunity to take stock and renew resolve. Residents have invested wisely in the future of the city and now the effort has to be made to ensure that the changes that have been achieved continue. We will keep you informed as the picture for NRPs future becomes clearer.
Robert D. Miller
Copyright © 2001 - Minneapolis NRP, Mpls MN