The Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) is responsible for recommending how $45.7 million from the Environmental Trust Fund should be spent. The LCCMR received a total of 217 proposals requesting approximately $183 million in funding, and narrowed it down to 101 projects requesting $120.4 million for proposals to present over the next two weeks.
A number of the projects in the running for funding could benefit Greater Minnesota. Proposal 201-G would provide $3 million for local parks, trails and natural areas grants. These grant programs provide funding to projects that do not qualify for Legacy funds and they are a top priority for the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails organization to which many CGMC cities belong.
In another proposal, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking funding for a wastewater treatment plant optimization pilot program (proposal 035-B) that would seek ways to help facilities perform better and meet stricter standards without costly facility upgrades. CGMC cities would be eligible to apply for the pilot if it is funded.
You can review these projects and others selected here (the projects that will present to the LCCMR are marked with an X).
Please consider reaching out to LCCMR members and ask them to support projects that benefit Greater Minnesota, particularly the two mentioned above. You can find the members’ contact information here.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program is now soliciting applications for funding for regional parks and trails projects in Greater Minnesota. All applications are due Sept. 26.
Eligible projects include acquisition, development, improvement and restoration of park- or trail-related facilities of regional or statewide significance outside the metropolitan area. Counties, cities and townships are eligible to apply.
The Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program has $3.91 million in grant funding available. Funding for the program comes from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
Program and application information is available on the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program webpage.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week that the deadline for applications for several parks and trail funding programs is moved up to October 31, 2011 rather than in the spring as in previous cycle. Applications for FY2012 Parks & Trails grants, Local Trail Connections Grants and the Regional Trail Program will all be due on October 31, 2011. If you applied for FY 2011 and were turned down, you can reapply but you MUST resubmit an application.
Parks & Trails Grants are available to cities, counties, townships and legislatively designated regional parks and trails taxing authorities outside the seven county Metro area. For the FY 2012 cycle only, the local matching requirement is 10%. The match must be non-state funded cash.
The Local Trail Connections program provides grants for short connections between where people live and desirable locations. The grants will reimburse up to 25% of the cost and must have at least a 25% cash match.
The Regional Trail Program provides local government units grants for trails of regional or statewide significance outside the seven county metropolitan area. The grants will reimburse up to 25% of the cost and must have at least a 25% cash match.
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.
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.
The Governor and legislative leaders are close to finalizing all of the budget bills to end the budget impasse and the resulting shutdown. The completed bills are posted on-line here. There is some good news for greater Minnesota in the Legacy funding bill. The Legacy bill divides up the money received through the 1/2 cent sales tax, a portion of which is dedicated to parks and trails of statewide or regional significance. During the last biennium, the parks and trails money had been divided between dedicated shares for DNR state parks and metropolitan parks and a competitive grant program for the entire state. Greater Minnesota did not receive dedicated funds, but instead had to compete with metropolitan parks for a share of the competitive grant program. During the 2011 regular legislative session, the conference committee report provided that greater Minnesota would receive a dedicated share of the parks and trails portion of this money. The bill did not pass of the House floor before session adjourned, largely due to a controversial provision relating to the open meeting law. Suburban and metropolitan legislators also objected to the dedication of funds to greater Minnesota.
In the bill that has been posted on-line here, it appears that the dedicated share of funds for greater Minnesota (approximately 19% the first year and 20% of the funds the second year) has been preserved.
As the conference committee meets for S.F. 1363, CGMC supports the Senate’s language, which provides an exclusive share of funding for regional parks and trails in greater Minnesota. The CGMC environment committee sent a letter to the legacy conferees requesting their support.
Download the PDF of the letter here.
CGMC opposes LGA cuts in Tax Conference Report
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities strongly objects to the LGA cuts from certified amounts contained in the Tax Conference Committee Report that was passed last night. These reductions will only further accelerate the trend of increasing taxes and declining services that face communities across the state. CGMC also strongly opposes the phase out of LGA for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth. These communities are being phased out of the program in an arbitrary manner, which significantly undercuts the purpose of the LGA program to equalize for property tax base disparities across the state irrespective of where those cities are located. We have taken note of the comments of Rep. Runbeck, that this is “the beginning of the phase-out of LGA” and this statement seems to be coming true. CGMC urges legislative leaders to pull back from this position so that in the future we can have a fair and objective discussion about LGA that includes all cities.
Local chambers of commerce hold press conference to support LGA and new revenue
Yesterday, representatives of eight local chambers of commerce from across the state held a press conference at the state Capitol urging lawmakers and the governor to support local government aid and reach an overall budget compromise that protects this vital program. According to Randy Kehr, Executive Director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, “Property taxes make up the largest share of taxes that businesses pay and those property taxes have steadily increased over the last decade, particularly in greater Minnesota.” Local business leaders also said that, “A compromise must include both cuts and an increase in state revenues.”
Local chambers participating in the press conference were Albert Lea-Freeborn County, Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Crookston Chamber of Commerce, Duluth Chamber of Commerce, Laurentian Area Chamber of Commerce (Virginia, Eveleth, Mt. Iron, and Gilbert), Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce, Wadena Chamber of Commerce, and Worthington Chamber of Commerce. See the entire press release at www.thanklga.org .
Senate legacy bill ensures fair funding for parks and trails in greater Minnesota
The CGMC strongly favors the Senate’s version of the Legacy bill with respect to Parks & Trails funding. Both the House and Senate dedicate funding to metropolitan regional parks, but only the Senate version dedicates a portion to regional parks in greater Minnesota.
Some have objected to this dedication because state parks also receive funds and many are located in greater Minnesota. That’s not a fair comparison, however. When apportioning regional parks and trails funding, the comparison should be made between metropolitan and greater Minnesota regional parks-the funding to state parks should be examined separately. State parks are statewide resources. For example, when the Lake Vermillion state park was established last year over the objections of some local legislators, its proponents argued that the park would be a crown jewel for the entire state.
Moreover, many counties in Minnesota, such as Sterns, Benton, Meeker and others, have no state parks located within them. Just like metropolitan regional parks, greater Minnesota regional parks provide recreational opportunities to many communities who don’t have ready access to the state parks.
Under the current House version of the bill, it is possible that greater Minnesota regional parks and trails could receive none of the competitive grant funding. The Senate bill simply guarantees that greater Minnesota regional parks and trails will receive a portion of the funding, a portion that is quite a bit smaller than the metropolitan share.
The legacy amendment was passed by citizens across the state and is funded by citizens across the state. The legislature should support the efforts of local governments everywhere to continue building healthy strong communities that include regional recreational opportunities.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with the Citizens League to organize 16 regional meetings around the state for May and June. At these meetings, citizens, civic leaders, and interested organizations are invited to participate in a discussion about the future of Minnesota’s parks and trails and funding sources. The locations and schedules for the regional meetings can be found here. These meetings will be a great opportunity to offer your vision for Minnesota’s parks and trails. You are encouraged to share this information with citizens, organizations, and others who might be interested.