- Minnesota Cities & The League
- Governing & Managing
- Risk Management
- Legislative Action Center
- Training & Conferences
Some changes will be useful to cities, while others redirect funds away from helping cities’ residents and businesses and toward helping agricultural businesses.
(Published Jan 28, 2013)
Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget recommendations for the 2014-2015 biennium increase the total funding for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) by $69 million, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by $94 million, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) by $69 million.
Only about $13 million of that total is from increases in general fund revenue. The rest comes from other state funds, such as the constitutionally dedicated sales tax and existing permit fee accounts.
Several of the changed items in the MPCA budget relate to city concerns. There are over $5 million in increases in funding for programs that address state air quality issues. The goal is to reduce certain pollutants fast enough to prevent the state from being placed in “non-attainment” for federal air quality standards. Non-attainment is a condition that causes a slate of very expensive restrictions to be forced upon areas where ozone and fine particulate matter are found at unsafe levels.
The budget also proposes transferring the authority to register wastewater labs from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to the MPCA, and establishing annual registration fees to cover expenses that total $105,000 per year. Finally, used paint, carpet, and primary batteries would have manufacturer-funded collection programs to keep them from ending up in municipal solid waste streams.
Clean water fund changes
Of significant concern to cities are several proposed changes to clean water fund expenditures. The Clean Water Council recently released its recommendations for how the revenue in the clean water fund should be appropriated. For the first time, $1.4 million was recommended to develop and document Best Management Practices (BMP) related to city stormwater management to make sure affected cities have the best information available about how to meet the rapidly changing state and federal requirements they have under their MS4 stormwater permits.
City residents and businesses face over $1 billion in new stormwater mandates. This information would have helped avoid public funds from being used in ways that do not deliver the best water quality results.
The governor has cancelled that proposal entirely, instead adding $2 million to fund a program that creates ways for farmers to claim exemption from future environmental protections requirements. The governor’s plan left in place $2.1 million to develop BMPs for agriculture to use in their voluntary efforts to protect water quality. That effort has been repeatedly funded in past biennial budgets. The League will be strongly opposing that change and working to get funding reinstated to provide scientific and technical stormwater BMP guidance to cities.
* By posting you are agreeing to the LMC Comment Policy.
Contact Craig Johnson
(651) 281-1259 or (800) 925-1122