Virginia wants outside lobbyist

VIRGINIA — City officials are looking beyond their two major lobbyists in St. Paul — DFL state Rep. Jason Metsa and Sen. David Tomassoni — for more help to secure bonding money for the Miners Memorial Building renovation.

The Finance Committee last week approved a recommendation that Jerich & Associates of the Twin Cities be hired to lobby for the city, with the Miners project its major focus for the upcoming 2 1/2-month legislative session.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider that recommendation, which calls for Jerich & Associates to receive $36,000 for one year from Nov. 1, 2015-Oct. 31, 2016.

It’s very likely to be OK’d as the mayor and councilors gave it the favorable recommendation last week.

The Miners project is estimated to cost $12 million, with $4 million needed for the first stage.

Mike Jerich said Jerich & Associates will work year-round on Miners, along with other projects.

Councilor Dennis Jorgensen said the city has been seeking funds for the project for several years and supports hiring an outside lobbyist.

Mayor Larry Cuffe Jr. said the city should spend the money on a lobbyist because of lack of success in the past for the project.

The 2016 legislative session, where a major bonding bill will be crafted in an off-budget year, will be a short one because of the expansive Capitol restoration project. It will only run from the first week in March to mid-May.

But Jerich said the lobbying group will work year-round when there is no session to have fundraisers, strategic planning, and meetings with legislators on issues. Jerich said that would be important work to lay a foundation to secure funding for projects.

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