The following are legislative items of concern to the Hopkins City Council for 2015.
The City of Hopkins supports transit funding for the Southwest Light Rail.
The City of Hopkins supports the implementation of funding for transit improvement areas and urges the Legislature to authorize various funding mechanisms for transit improvement areas, including tax increment financing, tax abatement, bonding and general fund appropriations for a revolving loan program or for a grant program.
In addition, the City of Hopkins supports bonding for improvements necessary for the three transit stations as well help for loss jobs and tax base for the operation and maintenance facility being located in Hopkins.
Assist local communities in funding repairs and upgrades to local sewer infrastructure. The city supports bonding for this purpose.
No restrictions on local government budgets such as Levy limits and property tax freezes.
The City of Hopkins is continuously dealing with cost for redevelopment efforts. Redevelopment allows local communities to adjust to changing market conditions, better utilize existing public infrastructure, and maintain a viable local tax base. However, due to the high up-front costs of redevelopment, as compared to Greenfield development, desirable redevelopment projects often require public assistance. It should be the goal of the State Legislature to champion development and redevelopment throughout the state by providing enough sustainable funding to assure that the state remains competitive in a global marketplace. The City of Hopkins supports increased funding and flexibility in the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities Programs. It strongly opposes funding reductions, transfers of Livable Communities Program funds to other program areas and constrains on eligibility and Program requirements.
In addition, the City supports:
Tax increment Financing (TIF) has been and continues to be the primary tool available to local communities for assisting economic development, redevelopment and housing. Over time, several statutory changes have made this critical tool increasingly difficult to use, while recently property tax reform has resulted in a decreased state financial stake in city TIF decisions. At the same time that TIF has become more restrictive and difficult to use, federal and state development and redevelopment resources have been steadily shrinking. The 2006 eminent domain changes will make redevelopment significantly more expensive in some cases, and impossible in others. The cumulative impact of TIF restrictions shrinking federal and state redevelopment resources, and changes to eminent domain laws will restrict a city’s ability to address problem properties and will accelerate the decline of developed cities in the Metropolitan Area. Without proper tools and resources to address decline, cities will be unable to stop it. At a minimum, the state should authorize increased flexibility in local TIF decisions.
The City of Hopkins urges the Legislature to:
In addition, for sites that do not meet the restrictive blight and contamination definitions of the 2006 changes to eminent domain law, the Legislature should explore creating incentives to encourage owners whose properties meet the blight definitions under M.S., Chapter 469, to voluntarily sell their land for redevelopment purposes. Incentives could include income tax credits, capital gains deferrals or other incentives targeted at property owners.
Finally, the City of Hopkins encourages the State Auditor to continue to work toward a more efficient and streamlined reporting process.
Support improved efficiency of election administration through early voting. The City of Hopkins would like to see the legislature authorize voters casting ballots at county or city elections offices prior to Election Day to place the ballots into a ballot counter. This would save taxpayer dollars and be better service to our voters.
Support legislation allowing cities to designate their city website to publish public notices. The proposed publication changes would allow the cities to determine the best and most efficient method of communicating information to citizens. This initiative would also save taxpayer dollars.
Asking for Biennial Appropriation from the Fire Safety Account Included in this initiative is language appropriating the balance in the account after the end of the fiscal year. This will avoid the necessity of seeking a supplemental appropriation in the second year. A portion of this money would continue to go to the CAT Team.