Category archives
Annexation & Land Use

Each fall, CGMC members work together to shape the Coalition’s policy positions for the upcoming legislative session. Policy committees will be convening by conference call in October and early November to draft recommendations which will be discussed and voted on by the full membership at the Fall Conference Nov. 16-17. Serving on a policy committee is a great way to contribute to the work of the CGMC. Please contact the appropriate staff member listed below if you are interested in serving on one or more of the committees. The exact meeting dates and times will be determined soon.

Contact members of the Senate Local Government Committee and urge them to oppose SF 1749!

SF 1749 prohibits a city from pursuing an annexation if the potential annexation area is covered by an orderly annexation agreement with another city

On paper this may sound reasonable, but what happens in practice is that a township will often put two cities against each other to get the best deal for the township, rather than what is best for the region’s development.

Take action now!

SF 1749 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, March 9). Please contact members of the Senate Local Government Committee as soon as possible and urge them to oppose SF 1749.

Let them know that SF 1749 is harmful because:

  • It stifles economic development, particularly in Greater Minnesota.
  • It will prevent cities from having a say in how they develop, and instead gives townships disproportionate leverage in negotiating orderly annexation agreements.
  • It would be a stunning restriction of property owner rights:
    • A landowner could be denied the right to connect with city services when building a home.
    • A business owner could be denied the right to build or expand a business.
    • A city may not be able to include property purchased for public purposes—such as for wastewater treatment, water supply or an industrial park—in its own boundaries.

Contact info

  • To send an email to all the members of the Senate Local Government Committee at once, click here.
  • If you prefer to call or send an email to each committee member separately, their contact info can be found here.


If you have any questions, please contact CGMC annexation lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel at or 651-259-1924.

Thank you to everyone who attended the CGMC Fall Conference last week at Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center! Due to the forecast predicting a blizzard for much of the state, the CGMC Board made a last-minute decision to condense the two-day conference into one action-packed day on Thursday, Nov. 17. Despite the threatening weather, more than 85 city leaders representing 44 cities attended the conference. We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and patience as we juggled agenda items around to fit almost everything into less than eight hours!

Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle kicked off the conference Thursday afternoon with a presentation on the transportation needs facing our state and the ways city leaders can work together to help convince the Legislature to invest more money into transportation. You can watch video of his speech here and read his Power Point presentation here.

After Zelle’s presentation, CGMC lobbyist Bradley Peterson provided an in-depth analysis of the 2016 election and what it could mean for Greater Minnesota issues this legislative session. Peterson then moderated a panel discussion on the topic of legislative reform featuring legislators Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) and Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park). Later that afternoon, University of Minnesota educator Ryan Pesch gave a presentation on “Rewriting the Rural Narrative” and led small-group discussions on ways communities can welcome and attract newcomers.

In the evening, attendees were treated to an entertaining and informative presentation by Washington Post reporter Chris Ingraham. Ingraham is the reporter who got Minnesotans riled up last year when he wrote an article that named Red Lake County “America’s Worst Place to Live” (based on data from the “national amenities index”) and then further raised eyebrows when he decided to move to Red Lake Falls in May of this year. Ingraham talked about his transition from living in an urban area near Washington D.C. to small-town Minnesota and the challenges and opportunities it has afforded him and his family. He also shared ideas about how communities can attract more residents by promoting benefits such as short commutes, job openings, telecommuting options and low home prices. You can read more about Ingraham’s presentation in this article from the Alexandria Echo Press.

In addition to speakers and presentations, the conference also included a membership meeting in which members discussed and voted on the 2017 legislative policy positions. To review the adopted positions, click on the following subject areas: Annexation & Land Use, Economic Development, Environment & Energy, LGA & Property Taxes and Transportation. You can also read more about the top priorities for the upcoming legislative in this CGMC press release that was sent to the media at the conclusion of the conference.

Thanks again to everyone who attended the conference – it was a great event despite the shortened time! Please check out the photo gallery on our Facebook page to see pictures from the conference.

Each election season, the CGMC provides background information to help candidates become familiar with issues affecting Greater Minnesota communities. The CGMC does not endorse candidates running for political office, but we think candidates should be well-informed about issues are important to Greater Minnesota cities.

Therefore, we have prepared “Elections 2016: Greater Minnesota’s Top Issues” to provide information about several key issues: property taxes & LGA, state budget, transportation, annexation & land use, economic development, and environment & energy. This informational packet was mailed to all of the registered candidates who are running to represent Greater Minnesota districts in the Minnesota House or Senate.

If you have any questions about the information provided in the packet, or if you would like us to mail a hard copy to you, please contact Bradley Peterson at

Every fall, CGMC members work together to shape the Coalition’s policy positions for the upcoming legislative session. Policy committees will be convening by conference call this month to draft recommendations which will be discussed and voted on by the full membership at the Fall Conference. It’s a great way to contribute to work of CGMC. The dates and times of the committee conference calls are listed below. Please contact the appropriate staff member if you are interested in serving on one or more of the committees.

  • Annexation and Land Use Committee will hold its conference call 9:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. Contact Elizabeth Wefel at
  • Economic Development Committee will hold its conference call 10:30-11:30 Wednesday, Oct. 28. Contact Tim Flaherty at
  • Transportation Committee will hold its conference call 9-10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29. Contact Carolyn Jackson at
  • LGA/Property Taxes Committee will hold its conference call 10-11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Contact Bradley Peterson at
  • Environment and Energy Committee will hold its conference call 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Contact Tim Flaherty at

The townships introduced a bill this week that limits a city’s ability to annex property. SF 680 (Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City) would forbid a city from seeking to annex any property that is subject to an orderly annexation agreement with another city. Although it may seem innocuous on its face, in practice this would create expensive and burdensome situations for many cities. A township could create a bidding war between two cities. It could sign an orderly annexation agreement with one city that has no intention of ever using it to block a much closer city from exercising annexation.

The CGMC will actively work against this bill in order to protect a city’s ability to do common-sense annexation. The bill currently does not have a companion in the House. If you have any questions regarding annexation legislation, please contact Elizabeth Wefel at

The CGMC adopted its 2014 legislative policy positions at its membership meeting on Nov. 14. The positions had been determined by committees prior to the meeting and the full membership voted to adopt each committee’s recommendations. To read the adopted positions, click on the following subject areas: annexation and land use, economic development, environment and energy, property tax relief and LGA, and transportation.

On July 26, as part of the Summer Conference in Owatonna, the CGMC held its annual Legislative Awards Dinner.  The following legislators, city officials, and organizations were recognized for their contributions to Greater Minnesota:

Legislator of Distinction- Tax Policy

Sen. Rod Skoe

Legislator of Distinction- Annexation and Land Use

Sen. John Carlson

Legislator of Distinction- Environment

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen

Rep. Tim O’Driscoll

Sen. John Pederson

Legislator of Distinction- Economic Development

Rep. King Banaian

Rep. Greg Davids

Rep. Rod Hamilton

Rep. Deb Kiel

Sen. James Metzen

Sen. Jeremy Miller

Rep. Rich Murray

Sen. Carla Nelson

Sen. Julie Rosen

Rural Leadership Award (Retiring Legislators)

Rep. Larry Hosch

Rep. Kory Kath

Sen. Gary Kubly

Sen. Keith Langseth

Rep. Morrie Lanning

Rep. Tom Rukavina

Excellence in Service (Elected)

Mayor Bruce Ahlgren, Cloquet

Mayor Hal Leland, Fergus Falls

Mayor Mark Novak, Janesville

Excellence in Service (Appointed)

Mark Sievert, City Administrator, Fergus Falls

Jack Murray Award (Retiring Elected)

Mayor Jerry Miller, Winona

Mayor Dan Ness, Alexandria

Bob Filson Award for Distinguished Rural Leadership (Retiring Appointed)

Aaron Parrish, former City Administrator, Crookston

Wendell Sande, former City Administrator, North Mankato

Dan Vogt, former City Administrator, Brainerd

President’s Award

Mayor Alan Oberloh, Worthington

Friend of the CGMC

AFSCME Council 5

Minnesota State University Student Association

At the CGMC Summer Conference last week, staff lobbyists provided highlights of the legislative and other work performed over the last year and previewed some of the efforts that will be undertaken during the upcoming year.  Copies of the presentation are provided below the fold.

Annexation and Land Use

Even though it was a quiet year for annexation and land use, the CGMC helped advance legislation adopting one recommendation of the Annexation Task Force Report and started a discussion to work on reforming the detachment process.  Read more on Annexation.

Environment & Energy

This year the Legislature dedicated money to Parks and Trails in Greater Minnesota.  It also started paying attention to the impact that municipal lab regulations and water quality standards have on waste water treatment facilities.   Read more on the Environment.

Economic Development

The final budget bill contained$ 4 million for the greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program.  Next year the CGMC hopes to focus even more on job growth and business development in rural Minnesota.  Read more on our Economic_development program.


Our transportation focus this year was on minimizing cuts to greater Minnesota transit.  Read more on transportation funding.

Smart land use helps cities deliver services more efficiently, cost-effectively

In addition to local government aid, property tax relief, economic development and environmental regulation-all issues addressed in the Advocate-CGMC is also very active on land use issues. The reason is pretty clear: good land use and annexation laws have a significant impact on the fiscal health of cities, government service delivery, tax fairness and the quality of our environment.

A number of case studies and real life examples lay plain the connection between land use and the cost to state and local governments of providing services. In 1999, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture published the “Cost of Public Services Study,” which analyzed the fiscal impact of new residential development on a selected group of rural Minnesota counties. The study additionally sought out the experience of 240 other Minnesota cities, counties and townships, 88 municipal water and wastewater systems and 200 independent school districts. The full study can be found online here.

Some results of the study include the following:

  • New residential development can have a negative fiscal impact on townships that lose a major part of their agricultural tax base and must also provide higher levels of service.
  • As a result of the structure of Minnesota’s local governments, the fiscal impact of new residential development on counties is usually enhanced when it occurs within cities.
  • Per capita road maintenance costs, the largest expense for rural Minnesota governments, tend to decline as density, residential market value and percent of city residents increase.
  • New development within cities or adjacent areas often favorably affects the cost of water and wastewater services. When the number of connections per mile of pipe are maximized, costs are lowered for all system customers. Also, when new development takes advantage of existing excess capacity, the system is more efficient and per customer costs decline.
  • Student transportation costs decline as residential densities increase and as land use patterns allow more children to walk to school. Cost savings that are attributable to higher densities and clustering can be significant. When new development occurs where it can rely on existing school capacity, per student costs can also be lower.

One of the starkest findings of the “Cost of Public Services Study” in fact had to do with student transportation costs. The analysis showed that of 200 school districts, the ten districts with the fewest pupils per square mile spent an average of $394 per pupil for transportation, whereas the ten with the highest numbers of pupils per square mile spent an average of only $310 per pupil for transportation costs.

Outside of this study, the effects of poor planning or a lack of planning were readily evident in Rochester during the 1990s. Rampant septic system failure in the township areas immediately outside of the city posed an enormous threat to the local drinking water supply and the quality of area surface waters. Neither the state, county nor the townships had an answer. Finally, the City of Rochester stepped forward and spent $22.5 million to subsidize the hook-up of over 1500 township households to the city’s sewer and water system. Had these residents originally been within the city limits or had they been connected to city sewer services, this potential environmental and health disaster and the costs of correcting it could have been avoided.

In following issues of the Advocate, CGMC will continue to highlight specific issues in the relationship between strong land use and annexation laws and the fiscal health of cities. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Bradley Peterson at

Municipal laboratories bill moves forward in House

Last Wednesday, the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee advanced H.F. 367, the bill regarding Municipal Environmental Laboratories, to the House Health & Human Services Finance Committee. On behalf of CGMC, attorney/lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel testified in favor of the bill. CGMC members Scott Gilbertson, Melrose’s Water and Wastewater Supervisor, and Shauna Johnson, Waite Park city administrator, testified in favor of the bill.

The bill seeks to remove the burdensome 2009 NELAP accreditation requirements that were placed on waste water treatment facilities that operate their own laboratories. These requirements have resulted in increased fees to wastewater treatment facilities as well as significant increases in time, labor and money spent on paper work and record keeping tasks.

MN businesses feel sharper sting from property taxes

According to a 2010 study by the Council on State Taxation, Minnesota businesses paid four times more in property taxes ($3.6 billion) than they did in corporate income tax ($800 million) in 2009 (see Chart A). Even when adding the $800 million paid in individual income taxes on business income, the amount that businesses pay in income tax in Minnesota is less than half what they paid in property taxes. Source: Council on State Taxation Total State and Local Taxes: State-by-State Estimates for Fiscal Year 2009.

Chart A: Minnesota’s State & Local Business Taxes, FY2009

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge