Judge: Hodges must unveil Mpls. budget earlier, or show why she can't

Mayor Betsy Hodges
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News file

A Hennepin County judge has ordered Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges to produce a 2018 city budget proposal, or show on Friday why she needs more time.

The order comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Minneapolis resident Carol Becker, who sits on the city's Board of Estimate and Taxation, a seat she's held since 2005. She used her own money to file the suit.

Judge Mary Vasaly's order, issued Monday, gives Hodges a week to deliver a budget proposal, unless she shows cause at the Friday afternoon hearing.

Becker said Hodges should've issued a budget proposal last week, per the city charter.

Hodges planned to issue her budget plan Sept. 12 and hold a public hearing on it Sept. 13, Becker said.

"That would leave everybody one day to read basically an inch-thick document about the budget, decide if they have concerns, research those concerns, organize with their friends, get time off of work and come down to City Hall and express their opinion," Becker said. "And that's just not right."

Hodges has argued that major public safety incidents, as well as the promotion of a new police chief, have delayed the usual timeline. She released an outline last week, which included a proposed 5.5 percent property tax increase.

But the judge's order doesn't mean Hodges has lost in any way, said deputy city attorney Erik Nillson.

"Our understanding is that the court determined that that was procedurally the proper way to handle this type of case," Nillson said. "So it doesn't constitute a win for the plaintiff or any decision on the merits. The merits will still be briefed and argued. And that is going to occur at the hearing on Friday."

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