Hennepin County Commissioners Slash Jobs at HCMC While Raising Taxes for Other Programs

Photo credit: Hennepin Health Newsletter

Minneapolis, MN –  MPR News reports that an unspecified number of jobs will be cut at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) after the Hennepin County Board unanimously approved a budget on Tuesday that will result in the loss of jobs for the medical center.

HCMC currently employs more than 6,800 people.

Dr. Jon Pryor, CEO of HCMC explained to MPR that expenses this year outpaced income by $11 million, which he attributes to serving many uninsured and low-income patients.  Pryor said that this is a common problem faced by other “safety-net hospitals.”

Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison told MPR, “This is a tough budget.  This has been a tough year at the hospital.  For those of us who serve on the hospital board, who’ve put in a lot of time, for those at the hospital itself who deal with this every day, it is difficult to come in here with these numbers.”

While layoffs will occur at HCMC, it was also revealed in this meeting that Hennepin County plans to hire more than 100 new employees to improve the county’s child protection system in a 5-year-plan to help make it more proactive and connect families to services prior to the occurrence of abuse.  The child protection program added $13 million to the budget.

Hennepin County has a $1.9 billion budget which will be partly funded by a property tax levy of $759.4 million.  This is a $32.5 million increase over the 2016 levy, or 4.5% more. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the owner of a median price home of $256,000 will see a $10 increase in the county portion of their tax bill.

“I think this is really a ‘stepping-up’ budget, where the county is stepping up to do things that perhaps we thought the state should do,” County Board Chair Jan Callison told the Star Tribune.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was the lone vote against the budget.  He told the Star Tribune that the County Board failed to push staffers to hold the line on taxes. “I fear that we are at a point now where the new normal or the new trend is ‘Well, we’ll increase property taxes at 5 percent again,’ ” he said.

Hennepin County is not the only metro county to approve higher property tax levies.

  • Carver County will see a 2.8% property tax levy increase in 2017.
  • Scott County’s 2017 property tax levy will increase by 4.6%.
  • Ramsey County’s property tax levy will go up by 2.8%.
  • Washington County approved a 3.49% property tax levy increase.
  • Dakota County’s property tax levy will increase by 2.0% and Anoka County’s will go up another 2.5% in 2017.
Donna Azarian