This case was brought to establish the validity of the action of the city of Pipestone, Minnesota, a municipal corporation, and of members of the city council of said city to effect the sale of $3,000,000 in revenue bonds to finance the purchase of land located near the city and the erection of a meat packing plant thereon. Defendant, the mayor of the city, contends that the statute under which the city council has proceeded, Minn.St. c. 474, the Minnesota Municipal Industrial Development Act, is unconstitutional.
The Municipal Industrial Development Act (hereinafter referred to as Act), passed in 1967 by the Minnesota Legislature, authorizes municipalities and redevelopment agencies to (1) acquire, construct, and hold land, buildings, and improvements thereon deemed necessary to a project to be situated within the state; (2) issue revenue bonds, repayable solely from revenues of such project to finance the acquisition, construction, or improvement of such project; (3) lease such project to any person, firm, or public or private corporation in such a manner that rents from the lease provide revenue sufficient to pay the principal and interest on revenue bonds issued by a municipality; (4) pledge and assign to the holders of such bonds or a trustee therefor the revenues of such project; and (5) mortgage or otherwise encumber such project without obligating itself except with respect to the project. Minn.St. 474.03.
Other provisions of the Act pertinent to the instant case may be summarized as follows:
Section 474.01 delineates the policies and purposes of the Act and provides that the commissioner of economic development shall assist and advise municipalities in furtherance of these purposes. This section will be discussed later in detail.
Section 474.04 provides that the acquisition, construction, or improvement of any project and the issuance of bonds pursuant thereto may be authorized by an ordinance or resolution of the governing body of the municipality.
Section 474.09 lists certain covenants which may be contained in the ordinance or resolution authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds, such as the rents to be charged for use of the properties involved, the creation and maintenance of sinking funds, the insurance to be carried on the project, and procedures for amending the ordinance or resolution.
The facts in this case indicate that on February 17, 1969, in compliance with § 474.01, subd. 7, the city council of the city of Pipestone obtained approval from the commissioner of economic development of a proposed industrial revenue bond project in which a packing plant was to be constructed and leased to plaintiff Pawnee Corporation.
On February 18, 1969, the city council passed a resolution authorizing the acquisition, construction, and leasing of the proposed project and the issuance of industrial development first mortgage revenue bonds in an amount up to $3,000,000 to finance the project. The bonds were to be secured by a pledge and assignment of the revenues of the project and a mortgage of the project to a trustee, all for the purpose of providing an industrial site for the operation by Pawnee Corporation of a meat packing business.
In contemplation of the above resolution, Pawnee Corporation, under authorization of its board of directors, tendered a warranty deed covering the 109 acres of land constituting the project site and a lease to the city of Pipestone for execution. The warranty deed conveyed the project site to the city of Pipestone. The lease between the city and Pawnee Corporation, as tenant, was to run for a period of 20 years, and provided that the basic rentals were to be equal to the sum of the interest and principal due on the then succeeding interest payment date on the industrial development first mortgage revenue bonds issued by the city. The rentals also were to include all taxes and special assessments levied on the project or on the privilege of using the project. The lease is considered an absolute "net" lease. The bonds are not payable from nor charged upon any funds other than the rentals. The mortgage and indenture of trust to be entered into between the city of Pipestone and First Trust Company of St. Paul, as trustee, pledged the revenues and mortgaged the project site, buildings, and improvements in capital equipment as security for payment of up to $3,000,000 in industrial development first mortgage revenue bonds. The provisions contained in the lease and mortgage and indenture of trust are authorized by and consistent with the provisions of the Act.
The cost of the packing plant is estimated at $2,750,000. The remaining revenue from the bond issue would be used as additional site preparation and placement fees.
When put into operation, the plant will provide employment for approximately 100 persons and will generate a payroll estimated at $710,000. This in turn may create the need for 3 new retail establishments and an additional 65 jobs in service-related industries to accommodate the 100 jobs actually provided by the project. It is expected that the project would cause an estimated 2.8-million-dollar increase to the economy. Based on the 1969 total mill rate, the project is expected to generate over $64,000 in present annual taxes to be divided among the Jasper school district, Aetna Township, and Pipestone County.
Pawnee Corporation asserts that private financing for this project is not available
When presented with the resolution of the city council authorizing the project and the proposed lease and mortgage and indenture of trust, defendant, the mayor and a council member of the city of Pipestone, refused to execute such instruments on behalf of the city. Such refusal was based on the grounds that the Act is contrary to certain provisions of the Minnesota Constitution and that the action proposed by the city of Pipestone is therefore unconstitutional.
A declaratory judgment action was commenced seeking a determination that the action of the city and the statute authorizing such action are not unconstitutional and requiring defendant to execute all necessary instruments on behalf of said city to accomplish the issuance of revenue bonds hereinabove described. The plaintiffs are the city of Pipestone, certain duly qualified and acting members of the city council, and Pawnee Corporation.
The district court ruled that the proposed action by the city will serve a public purpose and is constitutional and that the defendant mayor is authorized and has a duty to execute and deliver the resolution, lease, mortgage and indenture of trust, and the revenue bonds. Defendant appeals.
The sole issue under consideration herein involves the constitutionality of the Minnesota Municipal Industrial Development Act. At the outset, it should be mentioned that the procedural steps taken by plaintiffs to accomplish the objective sought under the Act are not at issue on this appeal. Defendant concedes that all necessary documents and resolutions appear to have been prepared consistent with and in accordance with the terms of the Act and that the project has been approved by the commissioner of economic development as required by the Act.
1. In considering the constitutionality of Minn.St. 474.01 to 474.13, it must first be pointed out that statutes are to be construed so as to uphold their constitutionality and carry out the legislative intent if possible. We stated in Minneapolis Gas Co. v. Zimmerman, 253 Minn. 164, 173, 91 N.W.2d 642, 650:
See, also, Grobe v. Oak Center Creamery Co., 262 Minn. 60, 113 N.W.2d 458; Housing and Redevelopment Authority of City of St. Paul v. Greenman, 255 Minn. 396, 96 N.W.2d 673.
2-3. The principal challenge herein to the constitutionality of § 474.01, et seq., concerns the application of the public purpose doctrine.
Minn.Const. art. 9, in so far as here pertinent, provides:
Minn.Const. art. 4, § 33, provides in part:
Under the foregoing closely interrelated constitutional provisions, public funds derived from taxation may be spent only for a public purpose, and this limitation
A "public purpose" within the rule that public funds may be expended only for public purposes is not susceptible of a precise definition, and each case turns upon the particular object sought to be accomplished. See, 15 McQuillin, Municipal Corporation (3 ed.) § 39.19. However, this court generally construes "public purpose" to mean "such an activity as will serve as a benefit to the community as a body and which, at the same time, is directly related to the functions of government." Visina v. Freeman, 252 Minn. 177, 184, 89 N.W.2d 635, 643; Port Authority of City of St. Paul v. Fisher, 269 Minn. 276, 132 N.W.2d 183.
On several occasions this court has held that the initial responsibility for determining what is a public purpose rests with the legislature and that its findings with respect thereto are entitled to great weight. See, also, Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27. However, a legislative declaration of public purpose is not always controlling. In the final analysis, the determination of public purpose rests with the courts. Burns v. Essling, supra; Port Authority of City of St. Paul v. Fisher, supra; Visina v. Freeman, supra. See, also, Basehore v. Hampden Industrial Development Authority, 433 Pa. 40, 248 A.2d 212; Mitchell v. North Carolina Industrial Development Financing Authority, 273 N.C. 137, 159 S.E.2d 745.
4. With the foregoing rules in mind, we proceed to an examination of the public purpose doctrine as it applies to Minn.St. c. 474. The statutory purposes of the Municipal Industrial Development Act appear in Minn.St. 474.01 as follows:
Thus, the purpose of our Act as stated by the legislature is to prevent the emergence of chronic unemployment and future economic deterioration through encouragement of industrial growth. Such expansion increases per capita income by providing additional job opportunities and thus benefits the entire economy by the input of these funds.
The legislature has thus determined that the powers granted in §§ 474.01 to 474.13, including the power to acquire land for industrial development, construct industrial facilities thereon, and lease such facilities to private industry, are for a public purpose. The fact it is not stated in so many words is of no importance. See, Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 1203, 131 N.W.2d 5, 17.
5. The concept of "public purpose" has proved to be an expanding one, and courts have frequently extended its permissible limits to approve public financing of currently popular projects. See, Wilmington Parking Authority v. Ranken, 34 Del.Ch. 439, 105 A.2d 614. We quote with approval from 37 Am.Jur., Municipal Corporations, § 120:
The concept of public purpose reaches perhaps its broadest extent under the view that economic welfare is one of the main concerns of city, state, and Federal government.
Legislation of the type under consideration herein has been adopted by many states throughout our country. Some states, where found necessary, have amended their constitutions to authorize public industrial financing of factories and equipment as a means of inducing industrial development. See, Pinsky, State Constitutional Limitations on Public Industrial Financing: An Historical and Economic Approach, 111 U. of Pa.L.Rev. 265. The great majority of courts have held that governmental financing for industrial development serves a public purpose.
The concept of public purpose has been steadily expanded in this state. In Port Authority of City of St. Paul v. Fisher, 275 Minn. 157, 145 N.W.2d 560, this court held that issuance of revenue bonds by a port authority to recoup funds expended to reclaim and redevelop marginal land was within the authority's power. There the authority acquired marginal lands through eminent domain proceedings. It then sought to finance the construction of an industrial building by issuing revenue bonds. The building and land were leased to a private manufacturing corporation for 30 years. In finding the existence of a public purpose, this court stated (275 Minn. 168, 145 N.W.2d 569):
We held there that the community was clearly benefited by achieving productive use of reclaimed marginal land. We also held, giving due deference to the legislature's finding, that the proposed activity was directly related to the functions of government.
In Visina v. Freeman, supra, we held that financing the construction and improvement of port facilities as part of an overall redevelopment scheme constituted a governmental function. Less recently, public financing of a metropolitan airport was upheld in Erickson v. King, 218 Minn. 98, 15 N.W.2d 201. In Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Paul v. Greenman, supra, we held valid a redevelopment statute which provided for the exercise of the power of eminent domain, the expenditure of public funds, and the lending of public credit, even though the lands thus acquired were transferred by public authority to private parties. Such holding was justified on the grounds that acquisition and clearing of blighted areas serve a public purpose.
Our court has recognized that the reduction of burdens otherwise borne by property taxpayers is a public purpose. See, Penn-O-Tex Oil Co. v. City of Minneapolis,
Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 131 N.W.2d 5, bears marked similarity to the case at bar, both as to applicable statutory provisions and the facts involved. There the Iowa Supreme Court held that Iowa's municipal industrial development act was not unconstitutional and that the provisions in the contract for lease of property giving the lessee the option to purchase a plant was not contrary to the statute. The court said (256 Iowa 1195, 131 N.W.2d 13):
The Iowa court further quoted from Faulconer v. City of Danville, 313 Ky. 468,
The Iowa court went on to say (256 Iowa 1203, 131 N.W.2d 17):
The Iowa court, quoting from Bennett v. City of Mayfield (Ky.) 323 S.W.2d 573, 575, stated (256 Iowa 1203, 131 N.W.2d 17):
6-7. In the instant case, findings based on studies conducted by the Department of Economic Development for purposes of the industrial revenue bond project indicate that the area surrounding the city of Pipestone is deteriorating economically. Although the population of Pipestone is increasing, the rural population is decreasing due to a migration of people to metropolitan centers. This population exodus is due in part to a substantially greater average per capita income in metropolitan areas. It is also caused by technological changes in methods of farming, resulting in larger farms operated by fewer people. Employment for unskilled laborers is scarce in the Pipestone area, and many farmers cannot find employment there and consequently must leave the area.
The development of industrial enterprises in the Pipestone area will substantially overcome the deteriorating economy affecting the community. The citizens of Pipestone and the residents of this state will benefit substantially from the proposed transaction. Providing gainful employment for our people will increase their purchasing power, improve their living conditions, and relieve the demand for unemployment and welfare assistance. New or modernized buildings will add properties to the tax lists and increase the tax base. There is little doubt that the establishment of new and improved industry will measurably increase the resources of the community, promote the economy of the state, and thereby contribute to the welfare of its people. These benefits are clearly public in nature.
We are also persuaded that any benefits derived by Pawnee Corporation are only incidental to the accomplishment of the primary purpose of the encouragement and development of industry in order to prevent the emergence of blighted and marginal lands and areas of chronic unemployment. It is beyond question that Pawnee Corporation will receive a large benefit from this program; however, this fact alone should not invalidate the project. Since the legislative enactment and the
We conclude that the Minnesota Municipal Industrial Development Act, construed in the light of conditions existing as of today, clearly permits the expenditure of public funds for a public purpose, as therein provided, and we therefore uphold the constitutionality of the Act.
For a complete list of cases as of March 1968, see Mitchell v. North Carolina Industrial Development Financing Authority, 273 N.C. 137, 159 S.E.2d 745. Indiana (Hawkins v. City of Greenfield, 248 Ind. 593, 230 N.E.2d 396), Oregon (Carruthers v. Port of Astoria, 249 Or. 329, 438 P.2d 725), Pennsylvania (Basehore v. Hampden Industrial Development Authority, 433 Pa. 40, 248 A.2d 212), and South Dakota (Clem v. City of Yankton, 83 S.D. 386, 160 N.W.2d 125) have since joined the list of states in which legislation authorizing municipal industrial financing has been upheld. Maryland should be removed from this list, since there the validity of municipal industrial financing is unclear. Oklahoma belongs on the list authorizing industrial revenue bonds under express constitutional authority.