Local men testify in St. Paul for Stang bill

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 2/16/99.

Stang bill Legislation presented by Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring) and Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) that would allow the city of Paynesville to support the Paynesville Area Transit continues in the Legislature, but lost some of its local application when the city council decided Wednesday to take over the local transit system. (See city council story on page 2.)

Because of the restriction, the city could not provide the transit system with the 35 percent matching funds needed for the continuation of state aid in the second year of operation. City administrator Dennis Wilde said the council would have preferred to have provided financial support only to the transit, but now will be responsible for its operation and potentially liable for additional costs.

The city actually learned of the restriction to funding nonprofit organizations when the senior center was built. At the request of a city council member, the city attorney made a determination that it was illegal for the city to provide funds to the senior center except for recreation. Now called the Paynesville Area Center, it normally receives $10,000 per year from the city.

The city annually gives the historical society $2,000, the maximum currently allowed.

The bill by Stang and Fischbach would allow statuatory cities like Paynesville to support senior centers, youth centers, and historical societies. In the House, the bill was approved by the Local Government Committee on Monday, Feb. 8. Wilde, representing the city; Don Torbenson representing the area center and the transit system; and Leroy Hillbrand for the historical society testified before the House committee.

Stang agreed to amend the bill when it comes to the House floor to include spending limits based on percentages of the cityís budget and to include provisions for the public to require a referendum on any expenditure this bill allows.

Fischbach said she is trying to schedule the Senate bill for a hearing next week in the Local and Metropolitan Government Committee. She is trying to arrange for Wilde and the Paynesville representatives to testify again for the Senate.

Even with the transit issue now moot, the proposed law would allow the city to increase aid both to the Paynesville Historical Society and to the Paynesville Area Center. ďThatís why you elect your city council to make those decisions,Ē said Stang. ďThe state shouldnít tie their hands.Ē

Richmond legislation
Fischbach and Stang also have introduced legislation that would allow the city of Richmond to join the Paynesville Area Health Care System District. The special legislation is needed because Richmond does not border on the district. Hearings have yet to be scheduled in the House and the Senate.

Usually, these bills have little opposition as long as the local parties are in agreement. The city of Eden Valley joined the district several years ago under special legislation.

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