The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ramped up its pressure for a neighborhood park repair referendum on Wednesday when it directed its staff to pursue all possible options for making that happen.
The board’s action followed a legal opinion from the city attorney’s office that it believes that the City Council lacks the power to forward the levy proposal to the November ballot. That is the Park Board’s preferred route, and Park Board legal advisors disagree with city lawyers.
However, other routes to authorize to put a referendum in front of voters include asking the Charter Commission to authorize that, asking voters for petition signatures in support of a vote, or asking the Legislature to authorize a referendum. The City Council would still determine the wording of the ballot question.
President Liz Wielinski said talks with city officials are continuing but she wants to move ahead with pursuing other options because she wants to make sure the proposal has time to be considered by the commission.
The board voted 8-1 for Wielinski’s proposal, with Commissioner Brad Bourn abstaining. The board’s proposal is designed to raise initially about $15 million annually, with that amount inflating if the city tax base grows. The owner of a $190,000 median value home would pay about $66 annually initially.
Mayor Betsy Hodges did not comment on either the board's latest move or the legal opinions. Earlier, she vetoed the Park Board action asking the council to put the issue before voters. She said she supports efforts to secure more funding for parks. But she objected to how the board sought to insert a hold-harmless clause in its proposal so that funding raised through a referendum wouldn't be offset by cuts in ongoing funding for parks.