Delegates to the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO voted October 14 to oppose the lone charter amendment voters will find on the Minneapolis ballot November 3. Charter Amendment 168 would change the composition of the city’s 130-year old Board of Estimate and Taxation and threaten the independence of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, opponents fear.
“The Board of Estimate and Taxation is the only place where the Park Board, the City Council, and the Mayor all sit down and work together,” said Carol Becker, one of two members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation elected by voters. “We’re a better city when we all work together.”
(Becker, a one-term Board of Estimate incumbent, is running for re-election with AFL-CIO endorsement).
Currently, the membership of the Board of Estimate is made up of two independently elected members, the Mayor, the president of the City Council, the chair of the City Council’s Ways and Means Committee, and a Park Board member.
“They have to work together around three things,” Becker explained: “one, how high taxes are going; two, how much we’re going to borrow and for what, and three, auditing – because clean government just doesn’t happen by itself.”
Under proposed Charter Amendment 168, Becker continued, “the proposal is for the City Council to take over all the powers of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.” If the amendment passes, she warned, “we really won’t have an independent Park Board because the City Council will be in control of all the Park Board’s tax money.”
Minneapolis is world-renowned for its park system and opponents of the charter amendment believe the Park Board’s independence is vital to maintain.
Audie Gillespie, business manager of City Employees Local 363, which represents 600 workers at the Minneapolis Park Board and Minneapolis Public Works Department, echoed Becker’s case for opposing 168: “We think its worthwhile supporting a long-standing board that has functioned very well,” he said. “It’s a way of maintaining checks and balances on both the City Council and the Park Board.”
Former Minneapolis mayors Don Fraser and Sharon Sayles-Belton are among the community leaders urging a “no” vote on Charter Amendment 168.
Other opponents of Charter Amendment 168 are listed on the opposition campaign’s website, www.savethebet.org.
Becker emphasized that voters will need to look for Charter Amendment 168 on the back side of the ballot November 3, at the bottom of the ballot. “It’s easy to overlook unless you’re looking for it,” she said.”
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