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City ready to join coalition

August 28, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has appealed to Fairmont City Council for years to renew its membership, to no avail. But on Monday, council members asked that dues be included in the 2013 budget.

Fairmont has not belonged to the coalition since the late 1990s, when it decided it was inappropriate for the council to spend so much money on lobbying. Fairmont already is a member of the League of Minnesota Cities.

Last year when the Coalition asked the council to join, the full cost was $15,212, with a 50 percent discount for the first year, 25 percent off the second year, and the full amount due after that. Whether those dues have increased since 2011 was not mentioned Monday. Whether those dues have increased since 2011 was not mentioned Monday.

The coalition represents about 80 cities from Greater Minnesota at the Capitol. The group focuses primarily on issues pertaining to local government aid, economic development, agriculture and environmental regulation.

Last year, the coalition was effective in stopping a formula change that would have decreased state aid, according to Bradley Peterson.

"We need Fairmont at the table," Peterson said, especially since the state is looking at completely revamping its system of supporting local governments.

Also speaking for the coalition were two member representatives: Ben Martig, Marshall city administrator; and Tom Stiehm, mayor of Austin.

"There are people who want to gut LGA, particularly people in the metro areas who don't rely as much on LGA," Stiehm said.

Cities that don't have a large tax base would be hit harder by the elimination of LGA.

Martig added: "If not for the coalition ... LGA would not be what it is today. There are no ifs about it. The coalition prevented Fairmont from losing $106,000," he said, by pushing last year for legislators to change the state aid formula.



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