The Mankato Free Press took the legislature to task for its budget, which they say does great damage to outstate schools and communities.
Unfortunately, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce continues to support the all-cuts budget of Republicans. Outstate members of the chamber should consider that position next time they’re asked to renew their membership or join with the Minnesota Chamber on other projects.
Republican leadership may have its so-called principles, however flawed, and maybe that keeps the big donor money flowing. But now is the time for outstate Republicans to lead, or their constituents will be on the bankrupt end of the spreadsheet.
Read the entire editorial here
THE DL-Online published an editorial about budget negotiations at the Capitol. They agreed with the chambers of commerce that spoke at the Capitol and met with the Governor about how cuts to LGA lead to higher property taxes for individuals and businesses. Both the chambers and the DL-Online agree that it’s time for the legislature to meet the Governor halfway on raising revenue.
They called for compromise, saying the governor and Legislature must come together to produce a budget compromise that includes both cuts and a state revenue increase.
The group said that the disproportionate cuts to LGA over the past years have driven up property taxes 65 percent across the state since 2002, with greater Minnesota taking the biggest hits.
“We already know what a tax increase looks like. It looks like this — a property tax statement — which our businesses and families have been slapped with year after year because of the continued cuts to LGA, and we’ve had enough of that,” said Dan Dorman, a former Republican state representative and current executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.
Read the entire editorial here.
The Fargo-Moorhead Forum weighed in on LGA in the paper’s editorial section today. Citing the disproportionate cuts cities have taken over the past decade, the paper notes that non-essential spending has been eliminated in most area cities, leaving municipalities the choice to either pare back critical services such as police, fire protection and snow removal, or increase property taxes and fees. As the paper notes, these actions widen the disparities between rural Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro that the LGA program was instituted to bridge. To read the full editorial, click here.
An opinion piece in today’s Ely Timberjay makes the point that the LGA program is a critical tool in keeping property taxes affordable in lower wealth communities. In response to wealthier cities that do not receive LGA and may feel shortchanged, the author argues that strengthening the economic vitality of lower wealth cities is in the interest of all Minnesotans:
I would argue that Minnesota is one big community where citizens deserve to have basic public services and needs met with help from statewide revenues. Police and fire responders, public works, planning and zoning, utilities, a library and economic development are not too much to ask. Good governance, programs for children and teens and recreation are essential to healthy communities. We should not let small and poorer towns fall by the wayside.
To read the full column, click here.
The City of Montevideo has been careful in budgeting for reduced LGA, but is informing residents that further cuts will impact essential services, such as police and snowplowing. As reported by the Montevideo American-News, the city stands to lose $365,000 under the legislative majority’s current proposal. While the city has a contingency plan for this round of cuts, residents will notice the fall-out of further state aid reductions:
“We’re at a place where we’ve cut everything we can cut,” Jones said. “There is no fat left. We have already reduced staff, which is where the majority of the money is spent.”
To read the full report, click here.
In response to the legislative majority’s budget proposal to cut over $140 million from cities in 2011, mayors across the state are asking their local legislators to work on behalf of their constituents in crafting a fair solution to the state’s budget woes. The City of East Grand Forks, which stands to lose $578,000 under the current proposal, is going one step further and asking its freshman Republican legislators to be leery of the political pressure from caucus leaders to vote against LGA. To read the full report from the Grand Forks Herald, click here.
The Albert Lea Tribune reports today that the area’s local chamber of commerce has signed a resolution in support of the local government aid (LGA) program. The City of Albert Lea stands to lose $1.1 million in state funding under the legislative majority’s current proposal. Asked why the chamber passed the resolution, Executive Director Randy Kehr responded:
“This is a position our board felt we needed to take,” said Randy Kehr, executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. “We needed to stand up for the businesses and citizens in Freeborn County.”
To read the full article, click here.
City Stories, Community Pools, Firefighters, Jobs, LGA, Libraries, News, Parks & Recreation, Police, Property Taxes, Senior Centers, Snowplowing, State Budget, Street Maintenance
Raising property taxes, laying off employees, cutting services, increasing fees and consolidating services with neighboring cities. These are all tactics that greater Minnesota cities are exploring as they weather a financial crisis caused by factors such as declining state aid, aging populations and decreasing property values. Minnesota Public Radio’s Ground Level blog is currently examining the issues facing cities as they piece together their budgets for 2011 and reports that after years of budget cuts, cities have few easy options to pursue. This is a must-read series that anyone interested in the future stability of cities should read. Below are selected entries of particular interest: