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Heading to the League of Minnesota Cities Conference this week in Duluth? If so, we invite you to join the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) for breakfast on Thursday, June 27 from 7:30 am to 8:30 am in Ballroom O at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center!

The event will feature a brief presentation on the CGMC – our mission, goals and priorities – followed by a panel discussion that will explore the CGMC’s work to address the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota. The discussion will be led by CGMC staff member Scott McMahon and feature panelists Tony Sertich, president of the Northland Foundation; Jon Radermacher, city administrator for Little Falls; and Jerry Gabrielatos, assistant manager for Albert Lea.

If you have any questions about the CGMC breakfast or our organization, please contact Shane Zahrt at SAZahrt@flaherty-hood.com or (651) 295-1123.

We look forward to seeing you in Duluth!

We have a great CGMC Summer Conference lined up for July 24-26 in Bemidji!

Agenda highlights include:

– Find out why Greater Minnesota needs to be a “pain in the behind”
– Learn about emerging trends and challenges in issues such as workforce development, housing, environmental clean-up and restoration, and economic development
– Explore the city of Bemidji by taking part in tours and during a city-sponsored reception, dinner and entertainment
– Discover new services, businesses and organizations at the exhibitors’ tradeshow
– Forge connections with other city leaders from across Greater Minnesota by sharing your ideas, concerns and hopes for the future

See this conference agenda and venue information for more detailed information.

REGISTER TODAY! Please register online at greatermncities.org/summer19. The deadline to register is July 17.

HOTEL INFORMATION – Please note that attendees are responsible for their own hotel reservations. The Country Inn & Suites in Bemidji has a block of rooms reserved for the CGMC at a discounted rate of $114-$139 (plus tax) per night. Call the hotel at 218-441-4800 to make a reservation. The block closes July 1.

QUESTIONS? If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or (651) 259-1917.

Now that most of the snow is melted, temperatures are rising and the legislative session is officially over, it is time to switch gears and start focusing on all of the CGMC’s summer events and activities.

In our annual tradition, in the coming months CGMC staff will be traveling to many of our member cities to update city officials on the legislative outcomes and other accomplishments and activities from the past year.  While we are not able to visit all 97 CGMC members, we will be reaching out to many of you soon to set up meetings.

In addition, we have several events coming up that we hope you will be able to attend:

  • Labor & Employee Relations Seminars: June 6 in Brainerd and June 13 in New Ulm – These seminars focus on practical and legal solutions for providing services and managing employees in local government. They will provide timely and relevant advice on topics such as employee background checks, administrating family and medical-related leaves, police departments’ unique personnel issues and more. Click here for more information on the seminars. Please register online at greatermncities.org/2019seminar.
     
  • CGMC Breakfast at the LMC Conference: June 27 in Duluth – The CGMC will be hosting a breakfast during the League of Minnesota Cities’ annual conference. CGMC staff members Scott McMahon and Shane Zahrt will be leading a presentation and discussion regarding child care issues in Greater Minnesota. This also serves as a great opportunity to recruit new member cities — please encourage non-CGMC members to attend as well!
     
  • CGMC Summer Conference: July 24-26 in Bemidji  – We have a great conference lined up! It will feature presentations and discussion on topics such as “Why Greater Minnesota needs to be a pain in the behind,” housing, innovative job training programs, environmental clean-up, economic development and more, as well as opportunities to explore the beautiful city of Bemidji and learn about some of the great things happening there. Click here to see the conference agenda and hotel information. Please register online at greatermncities.org/summer19.

For more information on all of the CGMC’s conferences and events, please visit our website at greatermncities.org/news/conferences-events.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com
PDF version

ST. PAUL—It took years of advocacy by city leaders and a late-night special session to get there, but funding for the Local Government Aid (LGA) program is finally being restored to its 2002 high-water mark.

The tax bill passed by the Legislature in the wee hours of Saturday morning contains a $26 million increase in LGA for 2020, followed by an additional $4 million boost in 2021, bringing total funding for the program to $564 million. The bill is now headed to Gov. Walz’s desk. He is expected to sign it, along with other key budget bills, on Tuesday.

“Our No. 1 priority for this year was to get LGA funding back up to the 2002 level,” said Ron Johnson, who serves as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) and is a member of the Bemidji City Council. “I’m ecstatic that the Legislature and Governor were able to work together to make that goal a reality. Cities all across the state, and especially in Greater Minnesota, are going to benefit from this important investment.”

This increase has been a long time coming for the nearly 90% of cities in Minnesota who rely on LGA to help pay for city services (such as public safety, street maintenance, parks and libraries) and restrain property taxes. While LGA has received occasional boosts in funding in recent years, cities have still been playing catch-up since drastic cuts to the program in the mid-2000s.

“As city officials, we work hard to keep our city budgets and property tax levies in check, but it is difficult when costs for everything from employee health insurance premiums to construction materials continue to rise,” Johnson said.

“A great thing about LGA is that it gives cities the flexibility to make investments wherever they are most needed,” he added. “With this bump in funding, some cities will be able to hire an additional firefighter or replace a beaten up old snowplow, while others might use the extra LGA to hold down their levies.”

Bradley Peterson, executive director of the CGMC, credited tenacious city leaders, Gov. Walz, House Tax Chair Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) and other state lawmakers for their hard work in getting the LGA increase through the Legislature this year.

“Successes like this have many parents,” Peterson said, noting that LGA is a prime example of an issue where the divided state government was able to reach a compromise for the good of the state.

In addition to LGA, there were other bright spots for Greater Minnesota in the special session.

The Legislature approved funding to help address the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota, including $750,000 to be divided between the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations for child care provider training and business assistance and an additional $750,000 for child care grants, of which at least 60% must go to Greater Minnesota. It also passed $40 million for rural broadband, $18 million for clean water infrastructure grants, $3.5 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program and $1.35 million for the Greater Minnesota Job Training Incentive Program.

However, there were some major disappointments in the session as well.

After legislative leaders were unable to agree on adopting any new revenues for transportation, the Legislature passed a pared down transportation bill that included no funding for small-city streets and no additional funding for the Municipal Street Aid or Corridors of Commerce programs.

And perhaps the biggest disappointment of the session was the failure to pass a bonding bill. Johnson said city leaders were counting on a bonding bill to help pay for critical infrastructure needs such as repairs to wastewater treatment plants and other city facilities, road improvements and new or expanded child care facilities.

“In some ways this was a bittersweet legislative session for Greater Minnesota overall,” Johnson said. “We are pleased with the LGA increase, but the lack of a bonding bill or comprehensive transportation bill means many important projects will have to be pushed aside for at least another year.”

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The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 97 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC online at greatermncities.org and follow us on Twitter @greatermncities.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com
PDF version

Below is a statement from CGMC President and Bemidji City Council Member Ron Johnson on the state budget agreement:

“I’m pleased to see that the Governor and legislative leaders have come to a bipartisan agreement on the state budget. As lawmakers continue to hammer out the details, I want to reiterate that there needs to be a $30.5 million increase in Local Government Aid in order for this session to be considered a success for Greater Minnesota. This has been our No. 1 priority since the first day of the session and we will continue to lean on our legislators to make it a reality.

“Gov. Walz campaigned on increasing Local Government Aid and leaders in the House have been vocal in their support for boosting the program. As we move into a special session, it is vital that they continue to fight for communities throughout the state and pass a $30.5 million LGA increase this year.”

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Registration is now open for the 2019 CGMC Summer Conference, which will be held July 24-26 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji!

During the conference you will:

  • Learn about emerging trends and challenges facing Greater Minnesota communities
  • Find out how the results of the 2019 legislative session could impact your community — and what legislative issues are on the horizon for 2020 and beyond
  • Watch in-depth presentations and participate in discussions on critical issues such as workforce development, housing, environmental clean-up and restoration, and economic development
  • Explore the city of Bemidji by taking part in tours and during a city-sponsored reception, dinner and entertainment
  • Learn about new services, businesses and organizations at the exhibitors’ tradeshow
  • Forge connections with other city leaders from across Greater Minnesota by sharing your ideas, concerns and hopes for the future

CONFERENCE DETAILS
See this CONFERENCE AGENDA & VENUE INFORMATION for more detailed information about the 2019 conference.

REGISTER TODAY!
Please register online at greatermncities.org/summer19. The cost for the three-day conference is $260. The deadline to register is July 17.

HOTEL INFORMATION
The Country Inn & Suites in Bemidji has a block of rooms reserved for CGMC Summer Conference attendees at a discounted rate of $114-$139 (plus tax) per night, depending on room type. Call the hotel at 218-441-4800 to make a reservation. The block closes June 24.  Please note that attendees are responsible for their own hotel reservations.

QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or (651) 259-1917

Thank you to all of the CGMC members who joined us Wednesday for our “final push” lobby day and ice cream social. Legislators can be especially busy and elusive this time of year, but our members did a great job of maximizing their time with them and advocating for top CGMC priorities including Local Government Aid, child care, water infrastructure and other bonding priorities, and transportation needs. This CGMC end-of-session priorities handout helped guide their lobbying efforts.

In the afternoon, the CGMC sponsored an ice cream social at the State Capitol — featuring ice cream from Marshall-based Schwan’s — that was well-attended by legislators and legislative staff. It was a successful event that helped bring Greater Minnesota issues to the forefront at this critical time in the legislative session.

Visit our CGMC Facebook page to see more photos from the ice cream social.

With just less than three weeks left in the legislative session, it is vital that we work together to keep legislators focused on Greater Minnesota priorities such as Local Government Aid (LGA), child care, clean water infrastructure and transportation. To help advocate for these and other issues, we encourage all Greater Minnesota city leaders to join us for an End-of-Session Lobby Day & Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, May 8. 

The event is FREE to attend, but please RSVP by sending an email to Meghan at RSVP@flaherty-hood.com (include your name, city and position/title).

We hope to get as many city officials to attend as possible! Share this Lobby Day Flyer and encourage other city officials and staff to join us.

Parking Info – Attendees may park for free in the lot located at 525 Park Street in St. Paul, just a block from the Capitol. However, a parking permit is required. Please print this parking permit in color, write in the event date (May 8) and place it on your dashboard.

If you have any questions, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com.

Promote your business or organization by being an exhibitor at the CGMC Summer Conference!The CGMC is an advocacy organization representing 97 cities outside the metro area. Our upcoming annual summer conference will be held July 24-26 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. More than 100 mayors, city council members, administrators and other community leaders are expected to attend.

Exhibitors will have ample opportunity to interact with attendees so that they can learn about the services or products you provide. Here are some details about what exhibitors can expect from this event:

  • Set exhibiting hours from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 25.
  • The conference agenda includes designated time allotted for attendees to meet with exhibitors.
  • The dedicated exhibitor space next to the presentation rooms will offer ample space for displays and conversations with conference attendees.
  • Exhibitors will also have the opportunity to socialize with city officials during meals and special events, including the keynote lunch, afternoon cocktail reception and Legislative Awards Dinner that evening.

More details are available on this Exhibitor Information & Registration Form. Exhibitors are encouraged to register early as space is limited.

If you have any questions, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1917.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com
PDF version

Below is a statement from CGMC President and Bemidji City Council Member Ron Johnson on the Senate tax bill, which fails to include any additional funding for Local Government Aid (LGA):

“A $30.5 million increase in Local Government Aid is our organization’s highest priority, yet the Senate fails to add even one cent more to help our communities keep up with rising costs. Without an LGA increase, cities will fall further behind and continue to struggle to provide essential services that our residents and businesses rely on. The Senate position will undoubtedly lead to property tax increases and potential cuts to vital city services.

“The positive side is that there is still time for the Senate to reverse course. We are grateful that the Minnesota House and Gov. Walz have both been steadfast in their support for a $30.5 million LGA increase this session. We are counting on them to continue to advocate for the needs of Greater Minnesota communities as negotiations heat up in the coming weeks.”

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