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Shutdown will affect city projects

WORTHINGTON -- The ramifications of a state shutdown seem to go on and on, trickling down into areas that may not immediately come to mind, according to Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark.

"The longer it goes on, the more implications there are to our city and city government," he added.

City leaders around the state are working to anticipate what kinds of issues will arise if the legislators do not come to an agreement about the budget, but some things are hard to foresee.

There was a bit of a mad scramble Wednesday to assure that onsale liquor licenses will be updated and legal after July 1.

"State approval is needed for onsale licenses, and the renewal date is July 1," Clark explained.

Wednesday morning, law enforcement officials delivered letters informing bars and restaurants of the possible dilemma, but by late afternoon the city had solved the issue after speaking with state officials and finding that all licenses had been processed and put in the mail. Temporary certificates were delivered to the license-holders.

"We are a creature of the state," Clark stated. "Their impasse translates into real implications to us. This is going to affect our community in a tangible way."

The Minnesota 60 project is one very visible way.

"It's a major transportation project on indefinite hold," Clark said.

It isn't only the dragging out of the construction process that will cause problems.

Local water and electricity workers are involved, but state permission is needed for working in various rights-of-way.

Without that permission being granted, the process will be slowed considerably.

Clark said there are also community development projects that will come to a halt when they hit the stage of needing state inspector approval before work continues.

"Any plumbing plans that need state review will go on hold," Clark added.

Several homes in the area under construction through a small city grant will also come to a halt because of funding, and other projects needing state reimbursement won't be able to continue until the state produces a budget.

The city was informed Wednesday that local government aid (LGA) payments will be made from the state.

Chief Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin ordered the commissioner of Management and Budget to "make payments . . . that have already been lawfully appropriated."

That includes local government aid payments. The payment to the city of Worthington is more than $1 million.

Clark said the police department received notice that expenditure of funds for the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force and the Safe & Sober program will be delayed until the state reaches an agreement, but he said he is comfortable those reimbursements will be made.

"But in general, things are going to continue to come up from time to time until they get this hammered out," Clark admitted. "If a utility needs to cross a waterway, we need the DNR, but no one will be there. There are instances we're going to need to consult with the state and no one is there."

Several weeks ago, based on budget indecisions, two street overlay projects were cut from the city's summer construction plans -- on Fox Farm Road from West Shore Drive to County State Aid Highway 10 and on Nobles Street from East Avenue north of Sherwood Street -- cutting $100,000.

"Things like this will apply to all of the cities around here," Clark said. "It's disconcerting that they weren't able to work things out through the normal legislative process. Partisan bickering has taken over."