When we talk about local government aid (LGA), we’re usually talking in pretty big numbers that are sometimes hard to wrap your mind around. Since LGA pays for core services to cities like public safety and maintenance, even small cuts to some cities mean a huge difference.
Many small cities in Greater Minnesota are left struggling to get by. In Wheaton, they’re used to dealing with a barebones budget, but they just can’t cut anymore. Wheaton City Administrator Jamie Beyer told MinnPost,
I know people say [of city budget cuts], ‘It’s just a 10 percent cut,’
but 10 percent of a park, of a swimming pool, of a police department,
that’s a lot.”
Wheaton isn’t the only Greater Minnesota city struggling to survive. A new report from the League of Minnesota Cities shows that by 2015, cities all over Minnesota will be broke. Greater Minnesota cities will be at a 15 percent deficit by 2015 and a 32 percent deficit by 2025.
Cities are forced to make up the revenue from LGA cuts by increasing property taxes, putting even more burden on their residents. When LGA is cut, residents are either facing rising property taxes or a cut to the services they need. LGA cuts for cities like Wheaton mean leave positions unfilled, delay or abandon street repairs, cut library hours, and employees are forced to take unpaid leave and furloughs.
It’s easy to get caught up in talking about the millions of dollars being cut from local government aid, but we have to remember what a large impact just a few dollars makes for small cities. When cities like Wheaton are already operating on a tiny budget, there just isn’t anymore “fat” to cut from it. LGA helps cities give their residents the services they need, like public safety, road repairs, and city maintenance.
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