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Brainerd City Council: Brainerd council to respond to legislative proposals

Brainerd City Council members went home with a little homework Tuesday night.

A chief topic was whether cities outside of the state’s metro area may be negatively affected by certain legislative proposals.

On Leap Day, council members expect to have written comments related to their positions on several major topics broached by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. The comments are expected to be shared at the March 5 council meeting.

One of the subjects is a proposal to establish a super majority requirement in the Legislature to approve or limit any legislative increases in taxes and spending.

“Greater Minnesota will be the loser if the state constitution is amended to require a super majority,” the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities stated in a report. “... If that happens constitutional budget amendments would become the norm, leading to budgeting by popular vote instead of a thoughtful, studied legislative process that balances revenues with expenditures.”

In a recap from CGMC, it reported in legislative priorities there is no evidence that a super majority requirement limits taxes or spending. The coalition is of the opinion the super majority requirement leads to gimmick-driven budgeting. The coalition reported budgeting through constitutional amendment puts greater Minnesota at a disadvantage without a concentrated population and special interest funds.

City Administrator Dan Vogt was seeking council direction.

Council member Bonnie Cumberland said the topics are important and affect Brainerd. She suggested the city may need to do more in educating residents about the issues, such as the super majority.

Council President Mary Koep said there are pros and cons to each. “It’s trying to decide if the pros are stronger than the cons,” she said.

Giving the coalition direction with a vote from the council was something Council member Kelly Bevans said he could support. But Bevans questioned the productivity of hearing everyone’s thoughts for 15 minutes without an end result.

Other coalition positions include a belief that local government aid is the most efficient way to bring property tax relief to all property types.

“Minnesota cities do not have a spending problem,” the coalition stated. “They’ve been cut more than they’ve levied back. Recent property tax relief has disproportionately favored the metro area.”

Mayor James Wallin said a lot of people don’t realize what local government aid does for the city and work force cuts needed with its reduction in order for the city to keep its budget within reason.

Wallin said the city would have a hard time keeping its police officers, firefighters and street and sanitary sewer employees if more LGA was cut.

“Cities have increased their levies by only $148 million from 2009 to 2012 even though they lost $619 million in (local government aid) and (Market Value Credit) cuts. Even if the $41 million in LGA appropriation increases and the $53 million in advanced MVC cuts are removed, total cuts are still $524 million,” the coalition reported.

The coalition also proposed a road map to boost job creation in the state, recommending work force development and training, new employees job training program tax credit, Greater Minnesota Angel Investment Tax Credit expansion, Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program, and $35 million in trunk highway bonding for interchange projects in greater Minnesota.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter @Dispatchbizbuzz.

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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