Duluth's Mayor Ness Says MN House LGA Cuts Could Be "Devastating"

By KBJR News 1

March 28, 2011 Updated Mar 28, 2011 at 11:08 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The city of Duluth is figuring out how it would deal with major cuts to local government aid, as two bills cutting the funding inch their way through the state House and Senate.

The council may publicly oppose one House bill that would eventually eliminate Duluth's state aid.

The council is voting tonight whether to oppose that bill, which has already passed in the Republican House.

That bill weans Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul off of local government aid by 2015.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness says if the House bill were made a reality, it would mean a devastating 40 percent loss to Duluth's annual general fund.

He said it could force the elimination of services in libraries, parks, street maintenance and cut several police and fire protection services.

The Minnesota Senate is considering what the mayor believes is a better alternative, a bill cutting 10 percent across the board to local government aid funding.

He says the city is prepared for that cut, without making any layoffs or tax increases.

Ness says the House bill eliminating funding is more a political position and not a likely outcome.

"Let's forget about all these political games. Let's get down to say, 'we have a serious problem facing the state of Minnesota and we're going to need a balanced solution, a solution that everybody contributes to that solution, and yet, we're not singling anybody out or being punitive."

The mayor says it's still unclear how cuts to LGA are going to play out, and the city may not find out until as late as June or July.

Governor Mark Dayton has said he supports local government aid.

Of course, Dayton would have to sign any legislation that makes its way to his desk before it goes into effect.

That's partly why Mayor Ness believes the elimination of funding all together is unlikely.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike
jpike@northlandsnewscenter.com