Mayor delays budget address

With the financial impact of the I-35W Bridge collapse still uncertain, Mayor R.T. Rybak will delay giving his full 2008 city budget proposal until sometime in September.

Rybak was planning on giving the City Council his budget address Aug. 15, but he decided that the collapse of the bridge created too many financial uncertainties to offer an accurate budget proposal now. He will instead present the City Council with a shortened budget message at the previously planned time this week. The full budget address will take place in September.

“The cost impact to the city from the I-35W Bridge collapse, coupled with the possibility of a state decision to restore Local Government Aid (LGA) from a special legislative session, significantly changes Minneapolis’ fiscal outlook,” Rybak said in a press release. “It would not be prudent to move forward on the budget with so many uncertainties.”

If the Legislature moves during its special session to pass a state tax bill vetoed earlier this year, it could add up to $14 million in restored local government aid, Rybak said. If a state transportation bill is adopted, additional funding could also be created for street and transit improvement projects throughout Minneapolis.

“At a time when investing in public safety and transportation infrastructure are as important as ever, we need to know more about all the pressures on our fiscal outlook. The I-35W Bridge collapse has affected our City in ways we are just beginning to understand,” Rybak said.

He said he expects the majority of the emergency costs from the collapse of the I-35W Bridge to be reimbursed by various federal agencies and that the city should be able to handle any costs that are not reimbursed.

He also noted that the delay in the full city budget proposal should not stop members of the City Council from completing their budget responsibilities and that council budget hearings are still set to begin the week of September 24.