LINCOLN, Neb. — The Republican majority has set the stage for an expected lawsuit over competing budgets to guide the city of Lincoln’s spending and taxes.
The City Council voted 4-3 Monday to approve a tax rate that officials said wouldn’t generate enough revenue to support the budget submitted by Democratic mayor Chris Beutler, The Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/2d4VnAx ).
The court battle, which will begin with the mayor’s expected filing Tuesday or Wednesday, is aimed at settling the question of whether a council vote on the tax rate is purely ministerial and must correspond to the budget in place or whether the four Republican council members can set a different rate.
Beutler and the three Democrats on the council have said the panel must approve a tax rate that fully supports the budget of record, in this case the budget Beutler submitted before vetoing the council’s revised version. The Republicans failed to override the veto because they couldn’t persuade at least one Democrat to defect.
The council’s Republicans also have said the mayor can’t veto a budget and that the smaller budget approved by the Republican majority is the legal budget.
The difference is barely more than a penny: The Beutler rate is 33.366 cents per $100 in assessed value, while the majority-approved council rate is 32.194 cents per $100 in assessed value — the same as the current budget’s rate.
City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick has hired attorneys for both sides in anticipation of a lawsuit. Under statute, he represents the mayor and the council, so in this legal case he can’t represent either side. Both sides informally accepted his selections.
A quick ruling is expected, because Lancaster County commissioners must set all the tax rates of all governmental entities in the county by Oct. 15.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com