The Le Sueur City Council is renewing its call for state aid, and this time they are calling on residents to let their voices be heard.
At a May 8 meeting, the council heard a presentation from former mayor Bob Broeder about local government aid (LGA).
The state government dedicates a portion of its budget each year to be used for LGA, which goes directly to help a large number of Minnesota cities.
Broeder, the city’s representative to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, said in his presentation that both houses of the state Legislature are looking to make smaller increases to LGA funds than Gov. Mark Dayton had proposed. The state House of Representatives originally proposed no increase over the next year, while the state Senate suggested a $12 million increase in LGA funding to Minnesota cities.
The state House-Senate tax conference committee presented a tax plan May 1 that included a $6 million increase to LGA for one year, with no increase in the second year. The decision will now be negotiated with the governor, who had proposed a $20 million annual increase.
“Quite a thank you to greater Minnesota from the House and Senate for having been given a majority last fall,” Broeder said.
Broeder called on Le Sueur residents to contact state lawmakers like Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, and Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko New Market. Broeder said contacting lawmakers directly could have a heavy influence in their support of the bill.
On April 10, the council approved a resolution calling on state lawmakers to support an increase of $45 million in LGA funding. The resolution called on the state to use its projected $1.65 billion surplus to boost state aid funding.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is calling for an increase in LGA funding. If the coalition got its way, the city of Le Sueur would receive an additional $50,000 this year and about $40,000 in 2018.
Broeder noted that these amounts would still be less than what was provided to the cities in 2002, when the state cut over $100 million from LGA. While there have been increases in the years since, LGA funds have still not increased to their 2002 levels.
Acting City Administrator Jasper Kruggel said any funds that could come to the city of Le Sueur would likely be leveraged to stabilize levy increases.
Last year, the town’s property tax levy jumped the levy about 5 percent, a pretty standard amount for Le Sueur, Kruggel said. Much of that money would go to upcoming street projects, but Kruggel said that every additional $21,500 given to the city through LGA could reduce the levy increase by 1 percentage point. The tax conference committee proposal would bring about $10,000 more to Le Sueur’s state aid and a decrease of around $1,000 the following year.
“It never hurts to call your senator,” he said.
Mayor Greg Hagg said he wanted to remind legislators that they had promised to support increasing LGA during their campaign, and that they should hold to that promise.
“We desperately need this money,” he said, noting that the town’s upcoming projects could cause higher levies going forward if more money isn’t made available through the state.