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Published January 05, 2011, 10:12 PM

EGF City Council Cites Local Government Aid Cuts As Big Challenge

The City of East Grand Forks is looking ahead to the coming year, and city leaders say they have one thing on the agenda to talk to new governor Mark Dayton about.

The City of East Grand Forks is looking ahead to the coming year, and city leaders say they have one thing on the agenda to talk to new governor Mark Dayton about.

It is one issue that could hit East Grand Forks homeowners in the wallet.

"The property tax would go up 48 percent. That's why it's important to fight for that," said East Grand Forks City Council President Dick Grassel, after being elected to his fourth year.

Local Government Aid, the main challenge that East Grand Forks faces this year as the Minnesota budget deficit reaches $6.2 Billion.

"The LGA program thus far is one of the few programs that has actually taken real cuts. Not only in the last three years, but since 2003," said City Administrator Scott Huizenga.

Huizenga said Local Government Aid provides direct property tax relief to home and business owners.

The Minnesota State Chamber wants to eliminate it entirely even though LGA makes up just three-percent of the state budget.

"If you eliminate the program in its entirety, you'd still have five-point-seven, five-point-eight billion to deal with," Huizenga said.

The city plans to talk about LGA in St. Paul with new Governor Mark Dayton.

"Our job is to educate the new governor and the new legislature.

Even if they have to get creative.

"Occassionally we've even snuck into the governor's office and gotten his attention," said Huizenga, laughing.

"He promised he would not cut LGA. We're going to hold his feet to the fire on that," said Grassel.

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