Pawlenty won’t cut aid to cities and counties for now

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he won’t cut payments to cities and counties to fix a state deficit, at least for now.

The state is due to send $437 million to local governments later this month.

The Republican governor said that payment will go out as planned. But he notes later reductions in local government aid are likely if he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature can’t erase a $1.2 billion deficit.

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The legislative session starts Feb. 4.

Albert Lea Finance Director Rhonda Moen said city leaders are still planning for a $1 million LGA unallotment during 2010, though under the governor’s most recent proposal Albert Lea would receive an about $780,000 cut next year.

“We’ve never been under the impression that we probably weren’t going to have additional cuts,” Moen said.

The governor has already sliced into state aid to local governments twice in the past year to address budget shortfalls.

In 2009, the city saw an about $340,000 cut in LGA, after an unexpected $400,000 unallotment during the last two weeks of 2008.

City and county officials had been dreading another round of cuts.

Moen said the city has made many efforts to prepare for the 2010 proposed unallotments, and the final budget will be presented at the Dec. 14 Albert Lea City Council meeting. Members of the public will be able to voice their opinions about the presentation.

She said the city is also close to nearing a conclusion with the city’s four union negotiations — three of the four unions are ready to vote internally. All four will probably be resolved by the end of the year.