by Dennis Dalman
All six area cities, including St. Joseph, have adopted three legislative priorities they would like the Minnesota Legislature to act upon – or at least to consider – in the 2015 legislative session.
Each council of the five cities came to a consensus to support the priorities during their council meetings. The cities are St. Joseph, Sartell, St. Cloud, St. Augusta, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park.
The priorities are these three:
- Appropriate funds to provide minimum-revenue guarantees for airlines via an economic-development fund to re-establish local air service at the St. Cloud Regional Airport.
- Exempt public purchases from the sales tax. Support legislation that would clarify the local government sales-tax exemption to define exemption for all purchases made by local units of government, whether by a private business on behalf of a local government (public capital projects) or by the municipality itself.
- Appropriate funds and create a program to encourage regional collaboration efforts that are locally initiated by local government jurisdictions.
The resolution approved by the six city councils also lists “general policy statements” that are generally supported in one form or another by the councils.
The following are some of the major ones:
- Legislation to assist cities with disproportionately high amounts of government and/or nonprofit business properties such as colleges, universities and hospitals.
- Legislation that would give municipalities the authority to establish street-improvement districts to collect fees from property owners within a district to fund municipal street maintenance, construction, reconstruction and facility upgrades.
- Support extension of the North Star Commuter Rail service north to the St. Cloud area.
- Reduce pressure on the property-tax system and equalize property-tax bases by reviewing local-government-aid appropriations. Also, consider increasing local-government-assistance levels commensurate with the inflation rate.
- Support local accountability by allowing local authorities to formulate and adopt budgets without state restrictions.
- Support legislation that would reduce or eliminate unfunded state mandates.
- Support retention of local control of private water-well installations.