The West Central Tribune's Carolyn Lange reports in Kandiyohi Co. finds itself in a financial squeeze due to state budget that one county commissioner was blunt about the impact of the package:
All told, the legislation approved during last month’s special session will have more than a $1.1 million financial hit on Kandiyohi County’s 2012 budget.
“Fiasco” was the word Commissioner Harlan Madsen used to describe the end of the legislative session as he listened to a report Tuesday during the meeting of the County Board of Commissioners.
Some of the elements of that fiasco:
Kandiyohi County will get less state money than it currently does to fund state-mandated programs and, at the same time, will be required to pay a greater share of some programs — like long-term sex offender treatment — as a result of the new state budget deal.
The double whammy will make it challenging for county officials to plan the 2012 budget, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, and will result in more local cuts, restructuring or higher taxes.
Kandiyohi County will get nearly $200,000 less than expected in program aid next year, which will affect the county’s total levy.
Individual taxpayers will feel a pinch because the state reduced Kandiyohi County’s market value credit by $524,150.
What that means is that property taxes will increase for every county resident who takes advantage of the state homestead tax credit.
There's a lot more; read about the details in the West Central Tribune. Asked about the homestead credit reduction, Republican state senator Joe Gimse takes refuge in the passive voice:
Regarding the reduction in the homestead tax credit, Gimse said legislators were “seeing a lot of pressure” to reduce local government aid and credits to help balance the state budget.
Really, Senator Gimse? Who was pressuring the state senate to do that? Certainly not the governor, small and big cities or local chambers of commerce. Apparently, these groups can't pressure Gimse. He should be honest about those who acted to reduce LGA and credits: suburban Republicans, the state party and the state chamber.
Apparently, Gimse forgets the local paper's coverage from the end of March, W. Central Tribune: big city & small city mayors seek more compromise, less finger-pointing.
It's not just Kandiyohi County. On Monday, Mankato Free Press staff writer Mark Fischenich reported in North Mankato eyes 10 percent levy increase for 2012:
10 percent hike in the property tax levy will be at the heart of a 2012 budget recommendation by city staff to the North Mankato City Council next month.
The double-digit jump in property taxes is necessary to offset nearly $500,000 in lost state aid and will add nothing in terms of city services, City Administrator Wendell Sande said Monday night.
Sande will make that suggestion at the council’s Sept. 6 meeting, the same meeting where he will lay out a proposal for addressing a nearly $740,000 shortfall in the current budget that ends on Dec. 31.
Read about how North Mankato got there at the MFP.
Turning to the impact of the state budget deal on schools, consider today's editorial in the fairly conservative Owatonna People's Press, Lazy legislating hurts schools:
. . .As part of a deal to end a three-week state government shutdown, legislators agreed to defer — or “holdback” — 40 percent of promised state aid to school districts. . . .
In fact, officials with the Owatonna school district — which will see about $13 million in state aid deferred to next year — have already secured a line of credit with Associated Bank and they expect to have to borrow about $2 million this year and an additional $3 million next year. As with any other credit deal, if the district doesn’t repay the loans in the required time frame — in the case of the Owatonna district, 45 days — interest fees will be applied.
Do you think the state will reimburse districts for fees and interest incurred on similar loans due to deferred state aid? If you answered no, you would be correct.
No, the district — and, in essence, the taxpayers — will be on the hook for any penalties incurred by late payments. . . .
It is a disgrace that our legislators in St. Paul have opted to balance the budget by placing a further burden on school districts. Officials around the state have already made staffing and curriculum decisions to cope with less state and federal aid.
Minnesota leaders took the cowards way in ending the shutdown, essentially pushing the problem further down the road and digging a deeper hole for the state’s already beleaguered education system. Now is the time for them to lead and come up with a solid solution to funding education in the future and make their promised payments on a timely basis.
Speaking of leaders, Governor Dayton was at Farmfest yesterday, but where are Minnesota's Republicans? Folks like Senators Mike Parry and Gretchen Hoffman said they'd be talking to their constituents, but news of those meetings are scarce to non-existent. Where are they? (Readers reports the field are very welcome, in the comments or via email).
Photo: Rural Kandiyohi County scene.