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Perham library to receive state funds

The Perham Area Public Library will be getting the state funding city officials have been hoping for.

The funding, a $257,000 appropriation for repairs related to mold growth, was included in a $1 billion public works spending bill approved by the Minnesota House and Senate last Friday, and signed by Governor Mark Dayton on Tuesday.

“I’m sure that in a $1 billion bonding bill, $257,000 is spare change, but to a small rural library in west central Minnesota, it is definitely a big deal,” wrote Librarian Susan Heusser-Ladwig in an email to the Focus.

Ladwig, along with Perham City Manager Kelcey Klemm, previously traveled to St. Paul to testify in front of legislators about the library’s mold problem. Water has been leaking through the building’s stone exterior for years, leading to what is now floor-to-ceiling mold growth and wood degradation behind the insulation.

Repairing the damage will cost an estimated $500,000. State funding will cover about half that, with the city picking up the rest of the tab.

Huesser-Ladwig said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, and Peg Warner of the Viking Library System, were instrumental in keeping Perham’s cause moving forward within the legislature.

With this funding in place, Perham will be looking at a 2015 construction timeline.

Bills passed

Both the $1 billion spending bill and a tax bill were signed by the governor on Tuesday.

Under the bills, public works projects will receive $857 million obtained by the state selling bonds, with another $199 million coming from a state budget surplus. The Capitol building is the biggest single project, getting $126 million to finish a multi-year renovation project.

Higher education construction spending, divided among the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses, totals $240 million

While public construction spending is significant, tax cuts are in the cards this year. Lawmakers agreed to lower property taxes by $103 million, making the year’s total tax cut $556 million in two tax bills.

The bill features an average $410 tax relief for Minnesotans who live on their farms.

Homeowners will see a one-time increase in homestead credit refunds of 3 percent, an average of $837 per home. Renters’ credit refunds will go up 6 percent, an average of $643.

The tax bill also:

–Provides $4.5 million this year and $10 million a year in the future for 83 counties to manage aquatic invasive species prevention programs.

–Gives 14 rural counties a $500 per-person payment to recruit and retain volunteer first responders, such as firefighters.

–Allows National Guard members’ military pay to be treated like active-duty personnel, lowering their taxes.

–Gives $4.5 million in tax breaks that five cities near North Dakota and South Dakota can give businesses and apartment properties.

–Requires study on the Minnesota impact of the North Dakota oil boom.

Local Government Aid for cities will go up $10 million after lawmakers boosted it $80 million last year. Most counties were helped by a state-approved increase in County Program Aid last year, but 11 rural ones ended up losing money; this latest bill provides one-time payments to those counties.

Some figures from the public works funding bill:

–Capitol building renovation, $126 million.

–University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities asset preservation and replacement, $43 million each.

–University of Minnesota Tate laboratory renovation, Minneapolis, $57 million.

–Red Lake school construction, $6 million.

–Flood prevention programs, $12 million.

–Vermillion State Park development, $14 million.

–State trail acquisition and development, $17.7 million.

–Local bridge replacement, $33 million.

–Local road improvements, $54 million.

–Minnesota State Security Hospital, St. Peter, remodel, $56 million.

–Minnesota Sex Offender Program, St. Peter, remodel, $7 million.

–Corrections Department improvements, $18 million.

–Housing aid, $100 million.

Marie Johnson,

Don Davis Forum News Service

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