MPR incorrectly reported this morning that Mayor Rybak “wants pothole repair high on the list of priorities, even though his budget cuts public works by $2.2 million.” While the MPR story correctly pointed out that in recent years Mayor Rybak proposed to fund police at the expense of street repair, the Mayor’s 2009 budget approved by the City Council in December and his 2009 revised budget included a five year $27 million Infrastructure Acceleration Program to expand and speed up overdue street repair and improvement. The Mayor’s Infrastructure Acceleration Program actually speeds up action on the backlog of unmet street needs, on top of the City’s existing five-year $105 million infrastructure plan for street repair. The Infrastructure Acceleration Program was one of Mayor Rybak’s top 2009 budget priorities, was a huge accomplishment these tough budget times, and should not have been excluded from the MPR story.
The $2.2 million cut to the public works department in the Mayor’s revised 2009 budget was to the City’s snow and ice control, to services on state roadways, and to traffic activities, not to street repair. “Traffic activities” cuts include traffic signal maintenance, traffic management services and a significant redesign of snow and ice control operations. Minneapolis will also no longer service state roads that the state doesn’t pay the city to service.
While the giant state budget deficit has made it more difficult for Minneapolis to balance it’s budget, Mayor Rybak’s 2009 balanced budget preserves public safety and public works, including a dramatic increase in funding for street repair.
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