W’bago Council hears update on issues
“When you are camped out in St. Paul you do not always know what is going on in the more rural areas of the state,” Marty Seifert, representing the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), told the Winnebago City Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
The CGMC represents 102 cities across the state working together in many different areas including Local Government Aid (LGA), property taxes, economic development, annexation and land use, transportation, environment, energy and labor and employment.
“COVID-19 shattered the legislative expectations,” Seifert explained. “It was a short session and we were working with a $1.5 billion surplus, but that surplus became a $2.4 billion deficit.”
Seifert also outlined some of the other issues which have come to light since the pandemic began.
“There are no in-person legislative meetings and we have had two special sessions so far,” Seifert said. “The civil unrest and policing reforms have taken center stage and the battle continues over Governor Walz’s executive powers. And as of tonight, a bonding bill still has not been passed.”
With the complications of the pandemic, Seifert said the CGMC has had to alter their goals.
“We had hoped for a bonding bill of $1.5 billion but now are hoping for $1.37 billion,” Seifert comments. “There are new and exacerbated child care challenges. We have worked for small business grants legislation and are also working to protect LGA.”
The CARES Act has helped the state, local and tribal governments to navigate their way through the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Seifert.
“The House and governor’s proposal for the distribution of CARES Act funding would have only brought $69,303 to Winnebago. The Senate proposal would have given Winnebago $115,971,” Seifert commented. “In the end, Winnebago received $100,428. I give credit to Senator Julie Rosen for really fighting for small cities.”
Seifert said it was possible a bonding bill would be passed yet the week of Oct. 12.
“Bonding bills require a super majority to pass,” Seifert shared. “Bonding bills have to originate in the House. If the House passed the bonding bill I am fairly certain the Senate will follow suit and pass it also.”
Regarding child care, Seifert stated the governor announced 60 million dollars in emergency funds for child care providers in July.
“Looking forward, our concern is Minnesota’s 40,000 child care slot deficit is expected to grow as more providers leave the industry,” Seifert remarked.
Seifert ended his talk by sharing a graph of the history of Winnebago’s Local Government Aid.
“The city received $500,000 in 2012. The amount was increased in 2014 and has risen slowly since then,” Seifert explained. “Winnebago is set to receive an estimated $550,498 in 2021 in LGA, which is an increase of $7,601 compared to 2020 ($542,897).”