Judge: Minneapolis mayor must unveil budget or explain delay

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge has ordered Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges to either produce a full 2018 budget this week or go to court to explain why she can’t.

Board of Estimate and Taxation member Carol Becker filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County Court last week arguing that Hodges’ budget delay is a disservice to citizens and violates the city charter.

The charter said the mayor must file a detailed budget with the board and City Council by Aug. 15. Hodges submitted an outline of the $1.4 billion budget but didn’t plan to issue the full budget until Sept. 12.

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“That would leave everybody one day to read basically an inch-thick document about the budget, decide if they have concerns, research those concerns, organize with their friends, get time off of work and come down to City Hall and express their opinion,” Becker said. “And that’s just not right.”

Judge Mary Vasaly ordered Hodges on Monday to submit a budget by Friday.

“The order is a scheduling order, not a ruling on the merits of the claim,” City Attorney Susan Segal said.

Hodges said the police shooting of Justine Damond and the Minnehaha Academy explosion are reasons for the delay. Past mayors have also delayed the budget because of public safety events.

The budget proposal outline included a 5.5 percent property tax increase.

The final budget won’t be approved by City Council until December.

Becker threatened to file a similar complaint against former Mayor R.T. Rybak in 2011.