Contract set for Northstar lobbyists

Commissioners approved the contract by which lobbying firm Capitol Connections will represent Sherburne County in meeting with state legislators during the 2013 session, with one goal being to win the right to shift funding of the county’s share of Northstar commuter rail operations from property tax to an increased sales tax.

Higher sales taxes help Anoka and Hennepin counties to meet their Northstar obligations, and a similar move would allow Sherburne County to lower its regional rail levy.

Starting with February, the county has agreed to pay $5,000 in monthly lobbying fees plus mileage and parking costs incurred by Capitol Connections, which is based in Roseville. The legislative session is scheduled to end in May.

The lobbying firm was founded and is run by spouses Luci and Gary Botzek.

Luci Botzek worked full time and year round for the county as a deputy administrator until that position was cut last month in a round of county staff reorganization. Much of her work had involved lobbying for the county on Northstar issues. She began as deputy county administrator in May 2006.