2020-2021 Proposed Budget submitted to County Board

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2020-2021 Proposed Budget submitted to County Board

Ramsey County Manager Ryan O’Connor today proposed to the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners a biennial budget of $741.7 million for 2020 and $763.4 million for 2021. This represents a 0.5% increase of $3.6 million in 2020 and a 2.9% increase of $21.7 million in 2021.

“This proposed budget invests in transformative change that ensures that Ramsey County is a forward-thinking, people-centered organization and is continually adapting and improving in the pursuit of excellence,” said O’Connor. “In this budget we are focused on advancing our strategic priorities through systems transformation, investments in the people we serve and the employees providing that service, and in successfully implementing and managing change across a large and complex organization.”


About $327.1 million (44%) of the proposed budget is funded through property taxes. The 2020-2021 budget calls for an increase in Ramsey County’s property tax levy of 4.75% ($14.7 million) in 2020 and 4.5% ($15.3 million) in 2021.

Property taxes are calculated and levied based on properties’ market values. In the proposed 2020 budget, the owner of a median-valued single-family home in Saint Paul ($199,800) would pay an additional $52 per year in county taxes on a projected property value increase of $13,600. Roseville median-valued single-family home values ($272,000) are largely representative of Ramsey County’s suburbs, where owners would pay an additional $78 per year on an estimated property value increase of $17,100.

The other primary revenue sources are intergovernmental revenue at $194.9 million (26% of total revenue) and charges for services at $144.4 million (20% of total revenue). Detailed revenue and expense information for the 2020-2021 budget is available at ramseycounty.us/budget.

“The board looks forward to reviewing this proposed budget in detail in the weeks and months ahead,” said Budget Chair Victoria Reinhardt. “We encourage every resident, business and community stakeholder to provide their feedback throughout this 2020-2021 budget process - we value and rely on your input.” 


O’Connor presented several new initiatives that are proposed in 2020 and 2021 that span the operational areas of the county: “These initiatives were funded through a mix of new funding and realigned spending,” O’Connor said. “A balanced approach to prioritization and growth underscores the important need to manage the inflationary costs associated with a large organization, recognizes the financial challenges faced by taxpayers, and responds to the demand to create new and improved approaches to service delivery that benefit everyone who lives, works and recreates in Ramsey County.”


  • Create a new program – Transforming Systems Together – that recognizes that changing system outcomes requires investing in innovative and inclusive approaches to program design and delivery. Building on Ramsey County’s significant successes in its criminal justice reform efforts that have empowered impacted communities, improved outcomes and saved taxpayers money, Transforming Systems Together will focus further upstream to prevent the justice system from becoming the county’s most recognized presence in a community. The program establishes a County-Community partnership committee that will design, evaluate and invest in holistic approaches that build healthier, more connected and more resilient communities with a focus on investments that reduce and eliminate the persistent racial disparities.
  • Invest in an aligned countywide approach to advancing racial equity inside the organization and across the services it provides, alongside the establishment of a dedicated source of funding that ensures that community engagement becomes a core component of all work advanced by Ramsey County.
  • Establish a common “Residents First” approach to service delivery that is clearly and publicly defined as a standard of excellence that the organization will measure itself against, with specific investments in Residents-First initiatives that have a noticeable, positive impact on people and policies, county technology and county buildings.
  • Oversee significant change management efforts and institute consistent approaches to project implementation that ensure that all significant projects undertaken by Ramsey County transition from vision into reality in a timely, efficient and professional manner.

Health and Wellness

  • Further invest in efforts that advance the concept of “More Community, Less Confinement” to sustain the significant progress that has been made in previous years, and support future efforts to further improve the justice system for Ramsey County youth and adults.
  • Redesign the county’s child welfare system to stem the significant growth in out-of-home placements by changing practices and investing in families prior to the need for removal of a child.
  • Develop an integrated housing office that works strategically with community partners and seamlessly provides access to stable housing services for individuals and families.

Economic Growth and Community Investment

  • Build a 21st Century Parks Department through a multi-faceted approach that involves the evaluation of existing programs, focused engagement across the community and changes to service delivery that meet the needs of an ever-changing community. This includes closing The Ponds at Battle Creek course in January 2021 and significant investments in the Manitou Ridge (2020) and Goodrich courses (2021) to ensure that Ramsey County’s offers golf courses that are market competitive at the value, standard and premium price points.
  • Provide ongoing funding for an Economic Development program that initially received one-time County Board funding in 2019.
  • Eliminate library fines for youth to ensure that barriers to access and learning are removed from the Ramsey County Library system.

Information and Public Records

  • Expand resources for anticipated voting increases for the 2020 election, including early voting options and to prepare for redistricting that will follow in 2022.
  • Invest in core technology system upgrades that ensure that Ramsey County’s information technology infrastructure is modern, secure and responsive to the needs of a changing workforce and customer base.
  • Develop a new model for internal project management that builds incentives for innovation, efficiency and excellence across the implementation of all Ramsey County’s significant projects.

Safety and Justice

  • Provide ongoing funding for the body-worn camera program in the Sheriff’s Office that was initially approved by the County Board during 2019.
  • Advance programs in the County Attorney’s Office that significantly invest in diversion, sexual assault response and youth justice system reform.

Detailed budget documents are available at ramseycounty.us/budget.

In addition to O’Connor’s presentation, Ramsey County Assessor Luis Rosario presented a mid-year update on property values, Ramsey County Auditor/Treasurer Chris Samuel discussed property tax trends, Policy Director Elizabeth Tolzmann provided an update on community indicators, and CFO Lee Mehrkens recapped a 2018 financial overview and fund balance report.

>Watch a video of the presentations

Next Steps

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners will adopt a maximum tax levy on September 17 and is scheduled to vote on a final budget December 11, 2019.

Residents are encouraged to provide feedback, including at two public hearings:

John Siqveland
, Public Communications Director, 651-746-9250.