Marty Siefert, a senior lobbyist for the law firm Flaherty & Hood, provided Worthington City Council members with an update on the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) during a special meeting of the council on Wednesday.
Siefert spoke about coalition goals related to local government aid, new money for water infrastructure programs, money for source reduction at wastewater facilities, a Facilities Grant Program for child care, grants for child care business development and training, the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program, multiple programs related to housing and additional funding in the Municipal Street Aid program. Siefert lobbies on behalf of the coalition, with which the city of Worthington is a member.
Local government aid has long been a focal point of the CGMC, and Siefert indicated that a key goal of the coalition this year was to prevent cuts to LGA. At the conclusion of the 2021 Legislative Session in St. Paul, there were no LGA cuts, and one-time supplemental aid was approved for distribution.
There was mixed success in other areas. The CGMC, for example, sought $20 million in bonding for the Facilities Grant Program for child care, and wound up with $22.5 million statewide for facilities though there was no bonding bill. Grants to Minnesota Initiative Foundations for child care business development received $3 million for 2022-2023 and a projected $2 million in the base budget for 2024-2025 after the CGMC had pursued a goal of $4 million in funding. As for Department of Employment and Economic Development grants for child care training and business development, the coalition had sought $10 million. A total of $5 million was funded for 2022-2023, while $3 million is projected in the base budget for 2024-2025.
Meanwhile, Siefert noted, the CGMC had a goal of $20 million in bonding and $3.574 million in cash for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program. With no bonding bill, only the $3.574 million in cash was allotted. Additionally, a $25 million-per year increase was pursued for the Municipal Street Aid Program to boost cities with populations of more than 5,000. Yet, the program will only see an increase of less than $700,000 per year as a result of other provisions in the transportation bill.
Also Wednesday, in one case item on the city council’s agenda, council members approved a change order with Tri-State General Contracting in the amount of $20,627.37. The change order allows for the installation of liner panel of the interior walls of the field house building currently under construction.