Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges must either produce a full 2018 budget by Friday or go to court to explain why the document isn’t ready, a Hennepin County judge has said.
Carol Becker, one of two elected members of the six-person Board of Estimate and Taxation, filed a complaint in Hennepin County Court late last week asking a judge to force Hodges to file the full budget “immediately,” arguing the mayor’s delayed release of her spending plan is a disservice to citizens and a violation of the city charter.
In a filing Monday, Judge Mary Vasaly said Hodges must produce the budget by Friday or “show cause” for the delay at hearing Friday afternoon.
The city attorney’s office said the filing is routine. “The order is a scheduling order, not a ruling on the merits of the claim,” City Attorney Susan Segal said Tuesday.
By charter, the Minneapolis mayor must file a detailed budget with the Board of Estimate and the City Council by Aug. 15. Hodges published the general outline of her $1.4 billion budget proposal that day, but will not deliver a full budget address until Sept. 12.
Hodges cited the police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond and the explosion at Minnehaha Academy as reasons for the delay. Past mayors have delayed the budget after major public safety events.
Hodges also said she asked newly confirmed Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for his ideas on the 2018 police budget, and needs time to incorporate those.
But Becker, who threatened to file a complaint against former Mayor R.T. Rybak under similar circumstances in 2011, was not satisfied. She said that since the first public hearing on the budget is Sept. 13, Hodges’ proposed release date doesn’t give citizens enough time to digest the lengthy document.
The final Minneapolis budget won’t be approved by the City Council, typically with late amendments, until December.
Hodges has proposed raising the property tax levy — the total amount of property taxes collected by the city — by 5.5 percent.