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Delano Deals with Budget Cuts.

The Delano School Board has approved $388,000 in reductions for the 2009-10 school year, according to the Delano Herald Journal. Since then, a part-time middle school vocal music position was not brought back, saving $13,138 and putting the total amount of reductions up to $401,138.

In Delano, the effect of changing the amount of deferred payments from 10% to 27% means that $3,895,000 of FY10 revenue will be deferred until the next year. As a result of funding shifts and unallotment, a 5-cent increase in breakfast, lunch, and milk prices was approved by the school board.The school district also looked at other means to reduce its budget, the Herald Journal reports. These reductions included eliminating a printed district calendar to save $6,000, approving a request from an industrial education teacher to reduce hours to save $25,219, not replacing a fourth grade position to save $43,624, and cutting the activities budget by over $13,000.

While these may not seem like the most drastic budget cuts, the end result will mean fewer teachers, larger class sizes, and fewer activities for the children to choose from.

The school district isn’t the only place in Delano feeling the affects of Governor Pawlenty’s irresponsible budget cuts and the economic downturn. The Delano City Council decided to temporarily decrease the Fire Relief pension benefit for firefighters from August to the end of December. The decision was made because the Fire Relief Fund’s investments have taken a hit during the economic downturn and the city does not have the money to contribute the difference thanks to reckless budget cuts in state aid by Governor Pawlenty and his friends in the Legislature. According to Sun Newspapers,

If benefits were to be kept at $2,575 per year of active service, the city of Delano would have to contribute $45,000 to the Fire Relief Assn. in 2010, "quite an increase" from the $20,000 the city contributed in 2009, he said. Lowering the benefit temporarily to $2,400 per year of active service would enable Delano to contribute around $25,000 in 2010.

The pension reduction came after members of Delano Fire and Rescue were asked which they would prefer: forgoing wages in 2010 or temporarily cutting their benefits. The majority preferred cutting benefits—apparently a good choice since forgoing wages would not have saved enough money to deal with the shortfall, according to Delano finance director Brian Bloch.

Firefighters in Delano being forced to choose either forgoing wages or reducing benefits is a clear sign that this community is trying to survive. These kinds of stories behind the unallotment numbers highlight just how far off track Minnesota has gotten from being a state that thrives. To hear more stories about how reckless budget cuts are affecting Minnesotan communities all over the state, check out our Road Blog from the Make Minnesota Thrive Drive.

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