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City officials talk LGA with state reps

Officials from cities in the local area gathered in Hutchinson Monday for a meeting with Reps. Dean Urdahl and Glenn Gruenhagen on the Local Government Aid (LGA)  hosted by the City of Hutchinson and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC).
Glencoe, Stewart, Hutchinson, Arlington, Gaylord, Lester Prairie, Winsted, Winthrop, Biscay, Litchfield and Kingston were all represented.
CGMC Lobbyist Marty Seifert opened the meeting by presenting the coalition’s legislative priorities, which includes restoring LGA to previous funding levels as number one.
Hutchinson City Administrator Matt Jaunich said this priority is the main reason why the organizations asked Urdahl and Gruenhagen to the meeting.
“We’re here to encourage you to support legislation that I’m assuming is going to be presented this year to increase LGA,” Jaunich said.
In Hutchinson, for example, Jaunich explained LGA funding is $150,000 less than what it was in 2006, and that doesn’t account for inflation.
Currently, two different versions of LGA changes were passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate. Urdahl explained that the issues went to a conference committee last session but an agreement was not reached before the session ended. It will be revisited when the next session opens on March 8.
“The bill will be taken down off the shelf and go back to conference committee,” Urdahl explained. “At some point I’m hopeful some type of agreement will be reached.”
The main criticism Urdahl and Gruenhagen hear of LGA from other representatives is that even when LGA is increased, cities still increase their levies.
Urdahl said the main point is that levies increase even more when cities don’t get as much LGA.
Gruenhagen said another piece is the high cost of projects. He said Minnesota is an outlier in terms of money spent on roads and bridges. For him, part of this is due to environmental and imminent domain regulations.

For more, see the March 2 print edition of The Chronicle.