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Report shows Minnesota cities will be broke by 2015

A report contracted by the League of Minnesota Cities was released on June 24th and it projects that by 2015 cities all over the state of Minnesota will "be broke." If we continue on this path, Greater Minnesota Cities in general will be at a 15 percent deficit by 2015 and a 32 percent deficit by 2025.

What does this mean to our communities? It means a cut to services or a raise in your property taxes. Because we have a lower per capita tax base than the metro area, our cities are going to be hit even harder than the larger cities. According to Minnesota law, our city budgets must be balanced each year. This means we can't have a deficit and we must make changes to avoid this shortfall.

Since 2003 LGA (Local Government Aid) has been drastically cut. With the six-billion dollar deficit the state is facing the cuts will continue. State aid and credits make up close to 43 percent of our revenue. This aid helps to pay for the services you receive in the community.

Police, fire, and emergency medical response employees and equipment, senior centers, libraries, parks, and infrastructure, including roads, streets, bridges, and sidewalks will all be affected by deeper cuts. Our infrastructure will deteriorate without repair and replacement.

Our state leaders need to work with us to compromise and develop a balanced approach to solving this crisis. Cities should not be forced to cut budgets at greater levels than the state is cutting theirs. Property tax increases are not an effective way to provide services to our citizens, nor should we be cutting these services. Our population is aging and our citizens need more services than they did in 2003. Soon we will have a higher number of citizens aged 65 and older than we will school age and younger.

Please contact your state leaders and candidates and ask them to help us fight to keep the services that make Otter Tail County a great place to live and work. Ask them to restore the LGA funds to their previous levels and to take the burden off cities to keep this state running. -- Senator Dan Skogen, District 10, Mayor Hal Leland, Fergus Falls, Mayor Larry Hodgson, New York Mills, Mayor Ben Woessner, Pelican Rapids, Mayor Gerald Porter, Deer Creek, Mayor Donald Zuehlke, Parkers Prairie, Mayor James Wallevand, Vining, Mayor Jim Hermanson, Henning, Mayor Wayne Wolden, Wadena , Mayor Dale Porter, Bluffton, Mayor Travis Shirley, Rothsay, Mayor Raymond Mounts, Ottertail, Mayor Richard Bratlien, Erhard, Mayor Mark Argall, Elizabeth, Mayor Cheryl Finseth, Underwood, Fergus Falls Councilmember Greg Stumbo, Mayor Tim Meehl, Perham