State government is going in the wrong direction, say nearly three-quarters of local officials informally surveyed at the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities annual conference in Fergus Falls. Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht says with the budget surplus, lawmakers missed the opportunity to provide full funding for state aid to cities. Albrecht says local government aid “is probably the single best way to reduce local property taxes, and that’s what a lot of people are looking to do.” Albrecht adds there’s a work force training problem looming, and lawmakers also missed an opportunity to use more of the budget surplus for higher education. She says, “In Bemidji we don’t have a jobs problem, we have a worker problem. We don’t have enough people to fill the jobs. And that’s true across Greater Minnesota in general I think.”
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz says, “The frustration that I have with state government today is everything… gets discussed on party lines. Nothing gets discussed as a compromise.”
Coalition president and Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson echoes local government aid affects property taxes. “It helps lower their tax levies for necessary services — police, fire, all those services.” Carlson says other key issues for Greater Minnesota cities are transportation, business development, jobs and housing.
More info in this interview with Carlson: