Court agrees with Betsy Hodges; tosses out lawsuit over Mpls. budget

Mpls. mayor didn't miss deadline, court rules

A judge has rejected a lawsuit claiming Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges broke the law by missing an August 15 budget deadline. 

Thursday's ruling by Judge Mary Vasaly (read it here) says even though Hodges only turned in the broad outline of her 2018 budget plan by the 15th, that was enough to meet what's required in the city charter.

This month's suit was filed by Carol Becker. She's on the board that will have to set Minneapolis' maximum tax levy by the end of September. 

The argument

In the letter she gave to the city council on August 15, Hodges acknowledged she was not giving them a complete budget proposal. What she did provide was an estimate of total revenue and expenses in the $1.4 billion budget plan, saying the details for each city department would come in September. 

The mayor said she was providing only an outline on the 15th because she'd been attending to other things that popped up unexpectedly in July – especially the police shooting of Justine Damond and the deadly explosion at Minnehaha Academy. 

Becker argued Hodges had violated the charter by missing the budget deadline and wanted the judge to order the mayor to deliver a complete budget proposal ASAP.

What the judge said

The judge noted in her ruling there have been other times when the mayor delivered a slimmed-down budget document in August with the complete plan coming in September. 

Former Mayor R.T. Rybak did it that way in 2007 after the 35W bridge collapse and again in 2011 when there was a state government shutdown and a tornado hit Minneapolis. 

Judge Vasaly said Hodges met the city requirement by turning in a budget document on the 15th. The ruling says it's up to the mayor to decide how detailed that document will be. 

Hodges said in a statement she's glad the lawsuit is over, calling it frivolous and a "politically motivated election year stunt." 

The mayor says she's sticking with her plan to deliver a budget address on September 12

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