Rybak uses veto in attempt to rebuff Park Board's play for more fiscal turf

The following article by Steve Brandt appeared in the July 9, 2009, issue of the Star Tribune.

Rybak uses veto in attempt to rebuff Park Board’s play for more fiscal turf The Minneapolis Park Board is almost certain to override the veto as it seeks to protect parks funding.

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on Wednesday vetoed a city Park Board resolution seeking a charter amendment to gain more fiscal independence, but Rybak’s penmanship likely will prove futile.

“In these times, citizens should require those of us in government to come up with solutions, not create even more chaos in an already disjointed city structure,” Rybak said after the veto. He called on park and city officials to put aside their difference and try to reach a compromise.

“Putting half-baked ideas on ballots has consequences,” Rybak said, pointing to California’s recent ballot initiatives.

The Park Board last week resolved to support a charter amendment that would declare it a separate governmental jurisdiction from City Hall, a move aimed at gaining more authority over property taxation. Some board members have begun collecting signatures for a petition to put the question on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Rybak’s veto is almost certain to be overridden by the Park Board, which traditionally blocks mayoral vetoes as an assertion of its independence.

“I don’t think there’s one person on the board who wouldn’t vote to override,” said Park Commissioner Bob Fine after a Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting that Rybak failed to attend. One of the issues between City Hall and the Park Board is a Rybak-backed charter proposal to eliminate the Board of Estimate and Taxation. It sets the maximum levy for city-level spending, and both the Park Board and mayor have a seat on the six-member taxation board, which also governs city borrowing and auditing. The Park Board fears that shifting the taxation board’s powers to the City Council, a question to be settled in a voter referendum, would leave parks underfunded.

Moreover, Rybak’s veto can’t stop efforts by individuals seeking the approximately 10,000 signatures needed from registered city voters to put a charter question on the fall ballot. There’s an Aug. 11 deadline for submitting petitions.