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Seventy five cities want to have fee option to pay for streets

Alexandria is not the only city asking the state Legislature for a new way to pay for street projects.

New street improvement district legislation has received the endorsement from 75 city councils from all regions of the state, according to the League of Minnesota Cities, which also supported the measure.

The legislation would allow cities to collect fees from property owners to fund municipal street maintenance, construction and reconstruction.

If enacted, the bill, Senate File 607 and House File 745, would provide cities in Minnesota with an additional tool to build and maintain city streets.

The bill has bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate, with Republicans and Democrats signing-on as legislative co-authors.

One version of the initiative has been included as a provision in the House's omnibus tax bill, and another will be considered as part of the Senate's omnibus transportation finance bill, according to the League.

Supporters say that passage of the bill would allow property owners to fund expensive projects by paying relatively small fees over time, and provide for a reliable dedicated funding source other than the current volatile property tax system.

Additionally, the tool could be used to minimize or eliminate the need for special assessments, which are often burdensome for property owners and difficult to implement for some cities.

Street improvement district authority would make it easier for cities to perform maintenance and reconstruction on schedule.

"Timely maintenance is essential to preserving streets and protect local taxpayer investment," said Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht. "For every $1 spent on maintenance, the taxpayers save $7 in repair costs. Street improvement district authority will help fund infrastructure projects that keep property values stable and encourage business investment in the community."

City councils supporting the legislation have been asked by the League to approve and sign resolutions indicating that support.

Alexandria added its support, on a 3-2 vote, at a meeting on April 8.

Other cities in the region that support the measure include St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Joseph and Barnesville.

HF 745/SF 607 is also supported by the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Association of Small Cities, North Metro Mayors, Minnesota Transportation Alliance, City Engineers Association of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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