Greater Mankato Growth Hosts Issues Dialogue, Surveys Members on LGA

In an effort to engage their members, Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (their Chamber of Commerce) hosted an issues dialogue on Local Government Aid. Offering perspectives at the forum were Mark Haveman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Tax Payers Association; Mark Dehen, Mayor of North Mankato; and Pat Hentges the Mankato City Manager. Following this event Greater Mankato Growth surveyed their business members on the LGA issue. Of the 124 businesses that responded 69% felt that LGA should either be maintained or increased, while 31% felt it should either be reduced or eliminated.

CGMC would like to thank Greater Mankato Growth and its President and CEO Jonathan Zierdt for engaging Mankato area businesses in this important policy discussion. The full survey results and the subsequent letter that was sent to area legislators can be seen on Greater Mankato Growth’s website at .

Greater Minnesota Mayors and Newspapers Speak Out for First Class Cities

Across Minnesota newspapers and mayors have been speaking out in favor of keeping Local Government Aid for communities that need it whether they are Albert Lea, Cloquet, or cities in the metro including Minneapolis and St. Paul. Numerous papers have published editorials in response to the current House omnibus tax bill that all cities, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, should be treated fairly when it comes to LGA funding.

The Albert Lea Tribune states that “Cutting LGA for Minneapolis and St. Paul is merely yet another attempt at ending the successful LGA program.”

On April 5, 2011 The Worthington Daily Globe put their take on it, “Should LGA again be cut substantially or disappear outright, the rich will get richer and the poor poorer -and Minnesota’s metro areas, so critical to the entire state, could suffer exponentially.”

When it comes to the distribution of LGA, the CGMC has always believed that all communities should be treated equally through an objective formula, and that those cities with high needs and relatively low tax bases should receive aid, no matter where they are located in the state.

Here is a sampling of editorials from across the state:

Albert Lea Tribune Editorial: Suburbs are like sucker plants (April 4, 2011)

Crookston Times: Attack on Twin Cities LGA Bad for Whole State

Montevideo American News Guest Commentary: House attack on Twin Cities bad for whole state

CGMC Applauds Efforts to Study Sulfate

In 1973, Minnesota adopted a 10 mg/L standard for sulfate released into wild rice producing waters.  Since adoption of the standard, few NPDES permits have contained sulfate restrictions.  As a result of increased interest in mining in Northern Minnesota, regulators have begun again to pay attention to sulfate restrictions.  Municipal wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) are concerned that as their permits are granted or renewed, they too could be subject to this 10 mg/L standard.   Meeting this standard could mean costly upgrades at the WWTF’s.

The 1973 sulfate regulations are based on limited studies by a single researcher.  Other studies have suggested that wild rice can grow in water containing higher concentrations. Although cities and their WWTF’s are deeply concerned about preserving clean water in Minnesota, they believe standards must have strong scientific backing.  Both the House and Senate omnibus environment bills contain provisions requiring a more in-depth study of how sulfates affect wild rice and loosening the 10 mg/L standard while the issue is being studied.  The CGMC applauds this effort to develop a better understanding of the true effects of sulfates before requiring investment in expensive upgrades that may not be necessary.