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Cities Push for 2019 Local Government Aid Increase

January 08, 2019 08:49 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It's a key part of any legislative session ... evaluating requests for money, and allocating state funds.

On the opening day of the 2019 session, cities around Minnesota are asking for a piece of the pie.

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"That's always been a big priority for the city" Austin city administrator Craig Clark said.

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New year, new session, new governor. But for cities like Austin and Albert Lea, the item at the top of the legislative wish list isn't new.

"Primarily local government aid," Craig Clark said.

“Local government aid is one of our top priorities" Albert Lea City manager Chad Adams added.

“It's basically the lifeblood of a community that has a lower tax base like Austin" city administrator Craig Clark told ABC6.

"We've generally used local government aid for our core essential services which are public safety, police, fire, all of our streets, infrastructure," Albert Lea’s Chad Adams said.

"Really it provides core services for the city,” Craig Clark said. “It's about 50 percent of our budget."

That’s more than 8-point-1 million dollars.

In Albert Lea: "About one third of our general fund budget so it's a little over five million dollars" Chad Adams said.

But at the same time:

"Local government aid we're receiving now today is actually less than we received back in 2002-2003," Chad Adams said.

"Squad cars, our plow trucks, asphalt, those basics of city operations haven't gotten any cheaper" Austin’s Craig Clark explained.

“So in the absence of local government aid increasing we are either dependent in raising other fees or raising taxes to cover some of that shortfall we're seeing from other sources," Chad Adams said.

"And we see a bigger pressure on the general fund and local taxes in order to make up that gap" Austin city administrator Craig Clark told us.

But  with a new legislative session just underway ...

"We really think this is going to be a key year in advancing Minnesota forward,” Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said. “So we're probably more optimistic than we have been in the last number of years that we're going to be able to have great successes out of this session."

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