Minneapolis voters decided in 2009 to keep a layer of city government seldom seen in other metropolitan areas — the venerable but little known Board of Estimate and Taxation.
Despite the power implied in the name, the board’s authority is generally ministerial. The board reviews “selected City department budgets and after receiving recommendations from the Mayor and City Council, sets the maximum tax levies,” according to its website. It also directs audits, authorizes borrowing and acts as one more check on spending.
Six people serve on the board — the mayor, two City Council members, a member of the city’s Park Board and two members who are elected directly by voters.
Four people are vying for the two elected seats. Incumbents David Wheeler and Carol Becker, who have developed a productive working relationship and have been strong voices for fiscal responsibility, have our endorsement for another four years of service. Challenger David Pascoe, a third-year law student with a master’s degree in business administration, also displayed strong potential and is encouraged to keep aiming for public office. A fourth candidate, Douglas Sembla, has been endorsed by the Pirate Party.
Voters will be asked to rank their choices for the board. Wheeler, 61, who is seeking a second term, merits a first choice. Upon joining the board, he immediately took on the task of improving the board’s transparency and accessibility. A key change: holding the board’s meetings in council chambers vs. randomly available and hard-to-find smaller rooms.
Wheeler holds a master’s in divinity from Yale and served as a Duluth City Council member in the 1990s. His outreach and professionalism have complemented Becker’s passion for policy analysis and asking tough questions. Becker, 50, who has served two terms on the board, has a doctorate in public administration and served in former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton’s administration.
Wheeler and Becker teamed up this summer to issue a welcome call for property tax relief. They should be given another chance as board members to continue that push.