What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Referendum might cost Rybak another stadium vote

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: February 24, 2012 - 11:52 AM

Mayor R.T. Rybak is vying for a majority on the council to support his Vikings stadium plan, but his numbers might actually be getting worse.

One council member who hasn’t previously staked a position says he’s leaning toward requiring a referendum, although it was difficult Friday to figure out how firmly he holds that opinion.

Kevin Reich, who represents Northeast Minneapolis, said he is still weighing mayor R.T. Rybak's proposal to divert existing hospitality taxes to fund a stadium and improve Target Center, which he called "a moving target."

But the charter requirement that stadiums costing the city more than $10 million be put to a citywide vote appears to be a sticking point. That same provision was important for Sandy Colvin Roy, whose insistence that it be honored created a majority opposition to the mayor's plan.

The mayor has said that he does not want a referendum on the plan and will ask the Legislature to override the provision.

Asked whether he feels this plan should require a referendum, Reich said, “Speaking on behalf of city policy? Yes.”

“If we’re called upon to spend more than $10 million, we have a provision in our charter that states what procedures we have to do, " Reich said. "I’m bound by those."

Reich appears to be leaving himself some breathing room, however. When asked again if the mayor's plan requires a referendum, he said, "I don't know if it does or not."

He said state lawmakers "have to say what is the law on this issue. But I will follow the rules as they stand now. And the way I read it now is there’s $10 million dollars, we have authority over our budget. And anything over that that we have authority over, it’s got to go to referendum.”

REPORTER: So are you going to call for a referendum on this? 

REICH: "I think it's automatically triggered by our provision." 

REPORTER: So you think there has to be a referendum?

REICH: "That's the way it reads."

Following that exchange, when asked whether there has to be a referendum on the mayor's plan, Reich said: “At this point in time I do.” 

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