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Cities launch campaign to save police, fire, libraries

Firefighters, police officers, librarians, mayors, prosecutors and Minnesota families braved snowy roads this week to announce a statewide campaign that will show how Governor Pawlenty's proposed cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA) will affect Minnesota cities.

The group, led by mayors from across the state, will educate the public on how LGA is critical to funding services and keeping property taxes low. State lawmakers will also be urged to protect LGA from the governor's proposed reductions.

"The reason we have snow plows on streets in cities across Minnesota this morning is because of LGA. We have libraries, police, firefighters and parks because of LGA. We need to keep our communities strong, safe and affordable places to live -- and we can't make that happen without LGA," said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Without LGA, the speakers argued, Minnesotans would see massive increases in property taxes and dramatic cuts in the core services that make their communities strong.

"Everyone here today will be impacted directly by cuts to LGA," Coleman said. "But this isn't just about their jobs. It's also about Minnesotans who depend on the services they provide -- public safety and fire protection at a moment's notice, prosecution of criminals, and a community library with Internet access for job seekers and reading materials for our children."

Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden, who is also President of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, warned that LGA cuts usually result in property tax increases.

"We have seen the affects of LGA cuts before, and the result is always the same: less services and higher property taxes. In this economy -- whether you live in Warroad, Worthington or Wadena -- we cannot afford to see our property taxes skyrocket."

Speakers directed the public and legislators to their Web site,, to learn about the LGA program and the specific services cities may cut if LGA reductions are passed into law. Visitors can also join an online forum to speak up for the services they depend on and voice opposition to the governor's proposed cuts.

"Anyone who cares about public safety, libraries, parks, or other city services needs to contact their legislators and the governor immediately. Let them know that these cuts will be devastating and must be opposed,"

Wolden said.

"The good news is that the governor's proposed cuts aren't final. The ball is now in the state legislature's court and they can stop this from happening."