Staff writer Linda Vanderwerf reports in Compromise is sought by Minnesota mayors on LGA:
More compromise and less finger-pointing is what big city and small city mayors are looking for in discussions about local government aid for the state’s cities.
The mayors of Granite Falls, Cloquet, Minneapolis and St. Paul referred often to legislative efforts to cut LGA during a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.
The call was organized by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
And what did the mayors from Greater Minnesota say?"
Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said the state needs to preserve LGA to maintain police and fire protection and other essential city services around the state. “We use it for livability in our cities, just like Minneapolis and St. Paul use it for livability in their cities,” he said.
Many Minnesotans go to the Twin Cities often, and they depend on the public services that are there, he said. “Taking LGA away from those cities won’t help anybody.”
Smiglewski and Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said their communities have made substantial cuts in recent years because of decreased aid. One of the only ways for cities to increase revenue is to raise property taxes.
If aid is reduced much more, layoffs will be on the way in his city, Ahlgren said.
Elsewhere, the Fargo Forum editorialized against the drive in Push is on to scuttle Minnesota LGA:
In a passionate speech on the House floor in St. Paul this week, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, warned that a bill passed Monday is the beginning of the end for Local Government Aid for cities. It was not hyperbole.
Marquart, who is a former mayor of Dilworth, knows of what he speaks. The veteran legislator was making sure his colleagues from rural Minnesota, especially Republicans, understood what they were voting for when passing a bill that will begin to slash aid to cities. He wondered why no out-state Republican spoke against legislation that he believes will hurt their constituents. . . .
Minnesota’s budget crisis has not gone away. In fairness, legislators are trying to balance a budget that is deeply in the red. But fairness was the initial motivation for LGA. It was designed to address basic services concerns in cities where tax bases were not as lucrative as they are in wealthy suburbs. The program has worked very well for Moorhead, Detroit Lakes and dozens of other out-state cities. It has helped keep those cities financially sound and attractive to residents.
Legislators surely are struggling with the state’s budget. But that process need not gut a program that has delivered all it promised when it was established decades ago. LGA works as intended. Adjustments might be necessary to deal with the budget shortfall, but what appears to be a not-so-subtle campaign to eliminate the cities’ program is misguided and ultimately destructive to the quality of life in the state’s smaller cities.
Both papers are part of the Forum chain, widely considered to be right-center in its editorial slant.
Photo: Granite Falls.