To Keep Communities Strong, Mayor Rybak, Worthington Mayor Oberloh, Marshall Mayor Byrnes Call on Citizens and Legislators to Oppose Cuts to Local Government Aid
March 1, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — For Minnesota to climb out of the economic recession, local communities need to be strong, and support for Local Government Aid (LGA) is an important part of that strength. That was the message that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh and Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes delivered at a press conferences in Worthington and Marshall today.
The mayors held the events in response to Governor Pawlenty’s recent budget proposal, which strips $125 million of LGA funding from Minnesota communities.
The mayors discussed the negative effects of continued state cuts to LGA, including fewer police and firefighters on duty, reduced library and park hours, reduced snow plowing and pothole repair and a 64% increase in property taxes across the state.
"Minnesota can be a national economic leader again, but we have to return to our roots by helping local communities across the state stay strong and vibrant," Mayor Rybak said. "Cities are doing their best under tough circumstances, but they can’t do it alone. And make no mistake: the continued cuts to LGA have eroded local communities’ ability to attract and retain jobs and families, keep people safe on our streets and in our homes, and keep property taxes down."
"The communities we live in have done a great job over the years of making sure our daily quality of life has been among the best in the nation," Mayor Rybak continued. "They’ve kept down day-to-day costs while planning for our future together — just like any Minnesota family does. Worthington, Marshall and communities large and small across Minnesota deserve our support to keep this good work going. We can’t let those at the Capitol punish them for it."
Worthington Mayor Oberloh stated that greater Minnesota is facing the direst situation in decades.
"It is critical that citizens and legislators from both sides of the aisle join with us to oppose these cuts. This isn’t just about potholes, snowplowing, police or fire protection — in many cases this is about whether communities survive, whether they will be strong, good places to live in the future," Mayor Oberloh stated.
Mayors are hearing from Minnesotans across the state, and residents have recognized that the continued cuts to local communities have taken a deep toll, Oberloh said.
Since 2003, Worthington has lost over $4.6 million and Marshall has lost over $3.2 million in LGA.
"LGA is just 2.9% of the state budget, yet communities have taken 16% of the unallotment cuts," Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes stated. "There needs to be a more balanced approach to solving the State’s deficit. LGA is a substantial source of operating revenue for our community, but with many of these large State reductions in funding coming in the middle or end of our fiscal year, it has also been the most unstable source.
"LGA was created to provide property-tax equalization so that people can expect to receive similar levels of service in roads, public safety and libraries, no matter whether they live in a Greater Minnesota community that doesn’t have a large tax base or a more affluent suburban community," Mayor Byrnes continued. "When policy shifts away from these values, we are going to see a greater disparity of services — which, I am afraid, will result in further shifts in where people choose to live and work.
"Regional centers like Marshall, which provide services like parks, libraries and airports for people who live beyond our municipal boundaries, face even greater fiscal challenges. We don’t have the luxury of a metropolitan park system, sewer system, transit system, or airport to assist in funding our local needs," Mayor Byrnes concluded.
All mayors acknowledged that the legislative session will be difficult given the ongoing State budget deficit, but said they believe that growing support for local communities will help protect LGA.
Published Mar. 1, 2010