For the second time in nine weeks, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board overrode a veto by Mayor Betsy Hodges of a neighborhood park bailout proposal Wednesday evening.
The board acted as negotiations continue at City Hall to see if a compromise proposal that sends extra funding to both parks and street repaving can be found before the Park Board takes added steps to try to put before voters next fall a $300 million charter amendment financing neighborhood parks.
Preparations to to send the matter to voters are accelerating. A fundraiser is scheduled next Wednesday at the home of Mark Andrew to raise money for a charter vote campaign if negotiations don't result in a park financing proposal that commissioners can accept.
Meanwhile, the city Charter Commission is taking steps to schedule several public hearings in May on a possible charter amendment. That amendment can be put before voters by a City Council vote, which hasn't happened. Or that can be done by the Charter Commission action, for which hearings are required. Or voters may petition for a vote.
"We have never stopped pursuing any of the routes," Park Board President Liz Wielinski said earlier Wednesday.
Hodges vetoed in early February the board's request that the City Council put a proposal to voters. That would raise at least $15 million annually for 20 years to reconstruct and maintain buildings and grounds in 157 neighborhood parks. The board quickly overrode her action.
The latest override involved a Hodges veto of the Park Board's approval of an alternate parks financing proposal by Council Members Barbara Johnson and Lisa Goodman. They proposed raising an extra $11 million annually for parks, mostly from internal city funds, limiting the tax increase to taxes by $3 million annually. The board voted 8-0 to override.
Hodges has been cool to that proposal, saying the city also needs to consider street repaving needs that have been estimated at $300 million, and other priorities. Mayoral spokesman David Prestwood said Hodges will meet with key City Hall players on Friday to continue negotiations.
The Park Board has sought a decision by April 15 from City Hall on getting behind the Goodman-Johnson plan. That's designed to give it time to pursue the other charter vote routes. The council's Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to discuss the Johnson-Goodman plan on Monday, which would put it on a schedule for approval on April 15. But so far only five of 13 council members have publicly declared support for the proposal.
Hodges and Council Member John Quincy have floated raising $10 million annually for neighborhood parks and $20 million for streets, both for 10 years. Wielinski and park Superintendent Jayne Miller said $100 million isn't enough to address their backlog of facility and grounds needs.
Prestwood said Hodges isn't pushing to have a proposal ready for Monday's meeting. "Some people feel a sense of urgency," he said, but Hodges wants any agreement to be fully reviewed by all parties and discussed by the public before approvals are scheduled.
Fundraiser host Andrew is a former Hennepin County commissioner and state DFL chair who lost the mayoral election to Hodges. He is the chair of the campaign committee formed to support a park funding charter amendment.
“We want to make sure we’re ready and launch that citizen petition if we have do,” said campaign coordinator Tony Sterle.
The city must forward a proposed charter amendment to Hennepin County by Aug. 26 for it to reach the November ballot.