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City: Government Shutdown Could Have Wide-Ranging Impact on Inver Grove Heights

Local legislators say Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican leadership remain deeply divided when it comes to resolving the budget.

Traffic enforcement on Hwy. 52, the , health inspections at new restaurants within the city.

They don’t have much in common, with one big exception: All three of those  services or projects could be limited, delayed or stopped entirely if the state government shuts down on July 1.

Republican legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton spent much of the past weekend in budget negotiations—trying to end a months-long budget impasse and stave off a state government shutdown, which will occur if the Republican-controlled Legislature and Dayton fail to resolve a $5 billion budget deficit by the end of the week. Once Dayton and the legislative leadership have reached an agreement on the budget, the governor will likely call a special legislative session to pass the budget.

The impact of that shutdown, if it occurs, could be wide-ranging in Inver Grove Heights, according to City Administrator Joe Lynch, who believes a shutdown is inevitable.

“I don’t think it’s a question of if, it’s a question of when and how long,” Lynch said late last week. “Nobody has an answers, and that’s the biggest challenge right now.”

The city will still be able to carry out footing, foundation, HVAC and some plumbing inspections, according to a press release issued by the city on Monday. But residents or companies looking for framing, insulation and final home inspections may have to wait until after a shutdown, since state inspectors may not be available to issue permits.

Home construction projects aren’t the only area that could be affected by a shutdown—the city’s ongoing reconstruction of City Hall may be delayed if state inspectors aren’t able to issue permits for electrical and plumbing work completed in the new wing added onto City Hall, Lynch said.

The extensive road construction project on Hwy. 52 may also suffer from delays, Lynch predicted. Speeding and DWI enforcement by the Minnesota State Patrol along that highway and on other state roads in the area could be affected, the city administrator added. So, too, could inspections for new restaurants—which may affect the and another eatery that is planning an opening in Inver Grove Heights, Lynch said.

But the biggest impact a state shutdown could have on the city, Lynch said, has to do with the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Dakota County relies on the state to pay out money collected from taxes, which it then funnels to each city within the county. Those payments normally come three times a year—in July, October and December, Lynch said.  The city already received its July tax revenue payment, but if the Department of Revenue ceases to operate, the city may not receive its October payment on time, Lynch said. That would force the city to borrow from other funds to maintain its present level of services, Lynch said.

Both District 39B Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL) and District 39 Sen. Jim Metzen (DFL) say the two sides remain deeply divided on the budget issue. The parties are searching for common ground in their proposed state budgets, which differ by $1.8 billion. Dayton hopes to tax the highest-earning 2 percent of Minnesotans, while the Republican leadership is staunchly opposed to any new taxation.

“While I remain hopeful that a budget agreement can be reached before the June 30 deadline, Governor Dayton and the Republicans in charge of the legislature actually seem to have become more entrenched in recent days,” Atkins wrote in a press release issued late last week.

Both legislators believe the state could look for additional gambling revenue to help close the budget gap. Allowing charitable gambling organizations to use electronic means to play games will increase revenues to the state and charities Atkins wrote in the press release. Metzen, reached Monday, , which could boost income for the state.

"You have two sides that are very, very dug in,” said Metzen, adding that he has received numerous messages regarding the impending shutdown from frustrated constituents. "People aren't happy, and rightfully so."

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