City of Prior Lake, MN
City of Prior Lake, MN

Prior Lake Wants to Change State Law to Protect Taxpayers

On Monday night, the Prior Lake City Council approved a $30,000 contract with local lobbying firm Messerli & Kramer to help a coalition of cities pass new legislation at the state capitol.

A 2018 Minnesota Supreme Court decision (Harstad vs. Woodbury) made it illegal for cities to collect street infrastructure fees, effectively placing the cost of new residential development onto current residents, business owners and taxpayers. Prior Lake, along with other cities and townships in Scott County and the metro area, has been working with state legislators on legislation to address this gap in statute to give cities the authority to collect those fees.

“Growth needs to pay for growth,” said Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs. “By not allowing the city to collect street improvement fees from developers, current taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $25 million over the next 20 years.”

Prior Lake is expected to grow from 26,000 to nearly 40,000 residents by 2040. This requires enhancing existing roads and intersections with the addition of turn lanes, and traffic signals to safely accommodate the needs of the larger community. Until recently, many cities collected a street infrastructure fee from developers to pay for those necessary improvements. Unless the law is changed, cities will not be able to collect that fee, causing the financial burden to be passed onto existing taxpayers.

"It is not fair to put the burden of future development on the shoulders of our existing residents,” said Prior Lake City Manager Jason Wedel. “Getting legislation passed providing the City statutory authority to collect these fees is extremely important.”

Two of the draft bills that are proposed in 2020 are SF2442 authored by Senators Pratt and Hoffman and the companion bill HF2296 authored by Representatives Albright and Tabke. Messerli & Kramer will work during session to help see these bills through the legislative session and adopted.

Although The City of Prior Lake is the client of Messerli & Kramer, the city has received the full backing of the Scott County Association of Leadership and Efficiency (SCALE) in this effort. The City will be fully reimbursed by SCALE for the cost(s) associated with this effort.