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Cuts to local cities

Proposed cuts called shocking, frustrating

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Dilworth City Administrator Ken Parke couldn't hide his surprise when told how much his city could lose under cuts proposed Tuesday by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

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"Wow. That's just shocking," Parke said.

The approximately $290,000 worth of proposed cuts in local government aid, if left unchanged, would lead to reductions in services and possibly personnel, Parke said.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said it appeared rural cities are being asked to bear the brunt of the state's financial problems.

"I'm pretty frustrated at the size of the cuts," he said.

"It (Moorhead's reduction) seems a bit disproportional," Voxland said.

Moorhead is facing a potential loss of $758,761 in local government aid this year and $1.6 million in 2010.

Rhonda Porter, director of Clay County Social Services, was still sifting through numbers Tuesday evening.

"The devil is going to be in the details," she said, adding that county officials have been warned proposed cuts will reduce by 84,000 the number of people statewide who are eligible for subsidized health insurance.

For those who remain insured, Porter said there may be significant reductions in what insurance will cover.

Anticipating cuts, Parke said Dilworth held off spending for things like an additional police officer and a new squad car.

The savings, expected to be $178,000, would be dwarfed, he said, by the more than $288,000 in proposed cutbacks.

The latest cuts follow a $65,000 reduction in state aid late in 2008.

"We're hoping this isn't the final outcome," Parke said of Pawlenty's proposal.

One thing Dilworth is considering to save money is keeping the municipal swimming pool closed this summer, which would save $45,000.

Voxland said the challenge in Moorhead will be finding ways to cut an already efficient budget.

"We still have to mow the grass. We're still going to have to clean the snow and provide safety to our citizens.

"At the end of the day, we'll have to have our expenditures reflect reduced revenues," Voxland said.

"It's going to be a long and thoughtful process."

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