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Stillwater’s $80K donation to bridge group ruled improper

The city of Stillwater gave $80,000 to a nonprofit group that’s promoting a new bridge over the St. Croix River, but that donation from a tax increment financing fund was improper, the state auditor’s review has determined.

The Stillwater city council had approved the payment, the Star Tribune reports, but because there was no contract that would keep the public informed about how the money would be spent, the auditor’s office advised the city to get the money back.

The story says the he auditor’s review noted that the “bridge coalition of various government and community leaders had claimed “non-public, trade secret” protection for documents that describe the coalition’s plans and costs. “As a result, there is no opportunity for the City or the public to review any document explaining what, if anything, the City might receive for this $80,000 expenditure of public funds.”

Stillwater City Attorney David Magnuson had concluded the donation was legal.

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