As its population ages and state aid continues to shrink, rural Minnesota may struggle to sustain essential city services for residents, according to a MinnPost report. In the City of Wheaton, a small town of nearly 1,500 along the western edge of the state, deep state aid cuts have had a very real impact on the city’s lean budget:
…[H]ere’s what it has meant for a city that was expecting about $700,000 in Local Government Aid but lost about 12 percent of it: Wheaton didn’t fill a public works supervisor position; it transferred the utility billing clerk off the city payroll; the city administrator must take unpaid leave every Friday afternoon and a week furlough annually; street repaving has been delayed or abandoned; library hours were cut; some upgrades to city facilities to abide by the Americans With Disabilities Act were delayed.
In addition to service cuts, the city has raised its levy by 19 percent since 2007. Struggling to maintain an adequate level of services at an affordable price to its residents, the City of Wheaton is finding itself in a situation that many small cities across the state know well: in order for the city to thrive again, it must increase its tax base by attracting young families and new businesses. However, without sufficient funding, the city cannot invest in the infrastructure and quality-of-life services that new residents and businesses demand. Continue reading »