MARSHALL – Minnesota lawmakers will need to consider about $ 5 billion in state bond claims in their next session. This week, members of the Senate Capital Investments Committee stopped by several cities in the region to hear some of these demands firsthand.
“That makes a lot of differences,” said Senator Gary Dahms. Senators can see the impact of proposed capital projects in person, he said.
Some of the stops for Senators on Wednesday included the Farmers Co-op Elevator in Echo, the towns of Slayton and Tyler, and Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
Senate committee member Dahms said Wednesday’s visit was the third stop on a statewide tour.
Members of the House Capital Investment Committee visited SMSU last week as part of a similar tour.
One of the proposals senators heard on Wednesday was a request for $ 6 million to help establish a regional center for special education and alternative learning in Marshall.
The project would be a collaboration of the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative, Marshall Public Schools and SMSU, said SWWC executive director Cliff Carmody. The organizers are proposing to renovate the SMSU social science building into an approximately 48,000 square foot learning center. Currently, the Social Science Building is underutilized due to changes in university enrollment and the building’s location on the outskirts of campus.
“This $ 6 million investment will reallocate this facility and expand its use,” Carmody said.
Carmody said part of the building could become an educational learning center serving students with autism, disabilities or with behavioral issues. SWWC was looking for a facility that better meets the needs of the students than the current ELC at Belview.
Carmody said the proposed learning center will be a truly regional program.
“We have children from all over the region, and then some” he said. âYou are not signing up for Marshall Public Schools. “
With the space available and a location near Marshall High School, the social studies building would also be a good location for an alternative learning center for high school students, Marshall Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. Marshall’s Alternative Learning Center has had different locations over the years, but none were built as a school.
MATEC’s current location in Marshall is in a building that was once a call center and retail store, Williams said.
The total cost of the renovations is estimated at just under $ 9 million, Carmody said. While the SWWC cooperative bills school districts for the services provided to them, the cooperative does not have the levy power like a school district.
Senators heard several different bail applications throughout the day on Wednesday.
“We are seeing a lot more sewer and water projects, especially for small communities,” said Dahms. âRules and regulations are changing faster than communities can keep up. “
Colleges and universities in Minnesota also have facility needs for which they are seeking higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR) funding, he said.
Some of the requests the committee heard included:
â¢ A $ 15 million request from the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority to help upgrade 13 miles of rail line between Fairfax and Morton. The Farmers Cooperative Elevator is one of the regional cooperatives and businesses that would benefit from the rail line.
â¢ A request for $ 7.29 million from the Town of Tyler to expand part of Tyler’s sanitary sewer system.
â¢ A $ 1 million application from Zone II Minnesota River Basin Projects to help fund flood mitigation projects in a nine-county area.
â¢ A request for $ 1.15 million from SMSU for design work on planned renovations to the Bellows University and Physical Education Center buildings. The project would connect the space in the two buildings to help create new classroom and laboratory spaces for the university’s exercise science and physical education programs.
â¢ A bond application for a road and safety improvement project on Murray County Road 13, near Shetek Lake.
During the next legislative session, the Minnesota House and Senate will each develop bail bills.
During this process, lawmakers consider factors such as the importance of the need for each proposed bond project, Dahms said.
“And they are trying to make sure that the money is distributed in the state”, he said.
Dahms estimated that the legislature would likely pass a bond bill of around $ 1.5 billion.