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Published January 26, 2011, 10:19 PM

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Fights LGA Cuts

An organization is visiting Minnesota communities to make them aware of a bill that would cut Local Government Aid.

An organization is visiting Minnesota communities to make them aware of a bill that would cut Local Government Aid.

If it passes through the Minnesota Legislature on January 28, homeowners could see a hike in their property taxes.

"The big question in front of Minnesotans is how do we keep greater Minnesota strong and vibrant," said Glen Fladeboe with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.

According to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the answers lies within three words: Local Government Aid.

Now the Coalition is fighting a bill proposed just three weeks into the legislative session suggesting local government aid be cut. Members have been visiting cities like East Grand Forks.

"We're on the road asking Minnesota to join us in supporting local government. Call on their legislature, call on your governor. This is a statewide effort," said Glen Fladeboe.

The bill would take away $150 million from LGA in an effort to balance the over $6.2 billion deficit in Minnesota. LGA makes up less than three-percent of the state budget.

The coalition's executive director said he is worried these cuts will lead to bigger cuts.

"We don't want them to come take a bite out of the apple now and then take another bite and then another bite," said Tim Flaherty, Executive Director of the Coalition.

Flaherty suggests tax increases applied evenly to the state would be a better solution than cutting the backbone of many smaller Minnesota communities. He hopes Governor Mark Dayton will remember his campaign promise to keep LGA.

"He really had nothing to do with this bill three weeks into the session and I think the republican majorities wanted to get something going to do something early," said Flaherty.

According to the East Grand Forks City Administrator if passed, it could mean a $350 property tax hike per year for the average homeowner in East Grand Forks and cuts in city services.

"We know there's a deficit and the state has do some cuts, but they can't keep putting the biggest percent on the cities because it's hurting the tax payers," said East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss.

"Cities that are good at snowplowing the streets, good police, fire departments and libraries. Places you want to live an grow a family," said Fladeboe.