Days after the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak announced that he needed to delay release of his budget proposal because the impacts of the collapse were unknown and expected to strain the city:
"At a time when investing in public safety and transportation infrastructure are as important as ever, we need to know more about all the pressures on our fiscal outlook," Mayor Rybak added. "The I-35W Bridge collapse has affected our City in ways we are just beginning to understand."
Four months later as his budget was approved by the council, Mayor Rybak lamented that the $1.4B budget didn’t have room in it to keep up with deteriorating infrastructure:
"We are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of investment in basic city infrastructure," Rybak said. "Our city, our state and our nation have not invested as we must in roads, bridges and transit – and our lack of investment has serious consequences."
Mayor Rybak recommended City Bridge Repair and Rehabilitation be more than doubled in 2008 and increased over five years from $950,000 to $1,450,000.
A few months later, Rybak congratulated the Minnesota Legislature for overriding Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of the largest tax increase in Minnesota history:
Choosing leadership over partisanship, today the Legislature stood strong for a transportation solution that will help strengthen our economy and grow needed jobs in our state.
Facing economic uncertainty and 1 million more people expected to move to our region over the next two decades, the Legislature put years of political divide aside and instead chose to stand up for a fair and balanced solution to our transportation neglect.
Poor Mayor Rybak, can’t find $500,000 in a $1.4B budget to do needed road and bridge repairs. he couldn’t find $500K for that but he could find it for this:
Designs for a series of 10 drinking fountains to be installed in Minneapolis to honor the city’s connection to water were unveiled Tuesday.
Yup, 10 designer drinking fountains at $50K each! But wait! Before you heckle Mayor Rybak over his spending prioities you need to understand that these aren’t any old fountains, they are “Art!”
Arts advocates say the project — half from property taxes, half from water charges — is a continuation of the city’s ongoing public arts program, which has brought the city projects ranging from an oversized bunny sculpture at E. Minnehaha Parkway and Portland Av. S. to artist-designed manhole covers.
Yeah, that’s what I want, an oversized bunny sculpture and artist designed manhole covers! That will certainly move Minneapolis right to the top of the “Greatest Cities in the World” list!
Mayor Rybak, in his wisdom, understands the importance of these fountains:
The good news is people are talking about water in Minneapolis again,” Rybak said before the unveiling, a reference to the criticism he’s taken for the cost of the fountains.
I’m sure for Minneapolis tax payers, “Talking about water” is every bit as important as talking about $4 gas, 8% increases in city tax levies and 28% increase in gas taxes.
It’s good to know that Mayor Rybak understands the prioriities of Minneapolis tax payers!