Professional Service Contracting Bill Resurrected in the Senate

The Senate Local Government Committee adopted an amendment that drastically changed the requirements for cities and addressed the League’s concerns.
(Published Mar 18, 2019)

After a motion to reconsider, the Senate Local Government Committee on March 14 reheard SF 998 (Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch), a bill that, as originally written, would have required cities to provide a written statement of work and an estimate of fees to be charged by a consultant passed onto an applicant.

The committee amended and passed the bill and re-referred it to the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

The Local Government Committee originally rejected SF 998 on March 5.

The House companion bill, HF 823 (Rep. Mike Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park), hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Amendment changes city requirements

The committee adopted an author’s amendment that drastically changed the requirements for cities. The bill now requires cities—only if requested related to a permit, license, or other approval for real estate development or construction—to provide a non-binding estimate of consulting fees to be charged to an applicant based on the information provided at the time of application.

Also, to avoid any problems with the 60-day rule, the application would not be deemed complete until the city has (1) provided an estimate to the applicant, (2) received required application fees, (3) received a signed acceptance of the fee estimate by the applicant, and (4) received a signed statement that the applicant has not relied on the fee estimate in its decision to proceed with the final application.

The bill no longer requires cities to complete a request for qualifications annually. It also no longer provides that the applicant could require the city council to address disagreement of a fee estimate provided by the city.

City testimony

While the adopted author’s amendment addressed city concerns, there was still testimony to help the committee understand the amended bill’s impact on applicants. St. Louis Park Engineering Director Deb Heiser explained that if an estimate is requested, there would be a delay of one to two weeks because the city would need to work with a consultant in order to provide the estimate.

Lee Gustafson, from WSB & Associates, also testified on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies.

For more background information about this bill, read a previous Cities Bulletin article.

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