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From the County Manager Column from Sept. 28, 2021
Guest column: Economic Growth and Community Investment’s 2022-23 proposed budget
From the County Manager
This week’s guest column from Deputy County Manager Johanna Berg highlights the 2022-23 proposed budget for Economic Growth and Community Investment that was presented to the board of commissioners on Sept. 13. This is the second in our series of articles highlighting the proposed budgets for each of our service teams. - Ryan
It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share more about our 2022-23 proposed budget for the Economic Growth and Community Investment Service Team. Our Sept. 13 presentation to the board highlighted each of our departments: EGCI Office; Community & Economic Development; Library; Parks & Recreation; Property Management; Public Works; Workforce Solutions; and the newly created Housing Stability.
The Economic Growth and Community Investment proposed budget begins on page 304 of the budget book. We’re proposing a total budget of $140.5 million for 2022 and $139.5 million for 2023. These numbers reflect $11.1 million of potential funding achieved by activating the proposed Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) levy. Activating the levy would be a major milestone in our work to preserve and create equitable affordable housing in Ramsey County, a key component of our Economic Competitiveness & Inclusion Plan.
Advancing strategic priorities
It’s important to remember as we look at the proposed 2022-23 budget that it’s built upon the same foundational priorities as the 2020-21 cycle. EGCI’s 2020-21 budget priority areas included: building a 21st century parks system, eliminating youth library fines and establishing base funding for economic development.
We made tremendous progress in these areas during the previous budget cycle, and I’m very proud of the work of our departments across the service team. Here are just a few highlights:
- County’s first Economic Competitiveness & Inclusion Plan completed in March 2021.
- Launched Ramsey County Means Business incentives site.
- Parks & Recreation began inclusive community engagement around the 21st century vision.
- Unblocked Library accounts of nearly 6,800 patrons under age 18.
As we look to 2022-23, there are clear ties between our proposed strategic investments and these priority areas that remain integral in advancing the county goals of well-being, prosperity and opportunity. Themes and highlights for our updated strategic investments include: investing in housing stability and ensuring emergency supports, activating the HRA levy, eliminating adult library fines, advancing Residents First through welcoming and flexible spaces, connecting and supporting job seekers and employers, and continuing to maintain and develop a true multimodal transportation system. Each of these proposed investments represents the continuation of strategic work already underway that will require many years of sustained focus.
As an example, our focus on flexible spaces has included developing countywide space and design standards. The County Manger’s Office remodel showcases what future space and design will look like across other county buildings. As we continue to plan for the countywide return to workspaces in the near future, we will also take advantage of opportunities to further reduce our footprint and modernize as we go.
In addition to the service team investment priorities listed above, the Economic Growth and Community Investment Office will implement a finance and accounting division by reallocating existing positions. This will allow for increased efficiency and greater parity in services to departments. This evolution models our commitment to growth and accountability.
This budget was not easy to develop. Like all areas of the proposed 2022-23 budget, it reflects necessary and difficult prioritization in order to balance our strategic priorities with the budget and levy targets. But it is a budget full of promise and vision for the future of Ramsey County.
I’m grateful for the hard work of our budget action team, led by Controller George Hardgrove, as well as EGCI’s performance measurement action team, led by Brian Isaacson, who all played important roles in pulling the final package together. I also extend my thanks to all EGCI employees for their contributions to the budget process, as well as for their dedication to advancing an impressively large volume of high-priority work during the current budget cycle. Many have been required to work on-site every day throughout the pandemic, and I recognize and thank you for your on-site service to residents and colleagues throughout this extremely challenging past year.