Editorial: Local government aid needs boost and new formula

Published 12:59 pm Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thanks to cuts in local government aid over the past decade, property tax payers have to bear the burden through local tax increases.

LGA is a tax-relief program that makes quality of life more even throughout cities and counties of Minnesota. Cutting LGA at the state level is like a tax increase at the local level.

This legislative sesson, it looks like local government aid is secure, and that’s good. But what’s truly needed is additional funding to make up for the steady decline.

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Local government aid this year is $139 million less than what was appropriated in 2002. We stand with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities in calling for an $80 million injection to LGA.

Moreover, we feel the state needs to change the formula. A new formula — agreed upon by Metro Cities and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities — calls for basing factors for cities under 2,500 on population, basing factors for cities between 2,500 and 10,000 on pre-1940 housing, household size and peak population decline since 1970 and cities over 10,000 on pre-1940 housing, jobs per capita and percent of housing built between 1940 and 1970.

We especially like that the formula for cities over 10,000 factors jobs per capita. Regional centers like Albert Lea deal with quite a bit more population during regular work hours than at other times — and thus must support the additional infrastructure. The same holds true in the suburbs. Some of them are essentially bedroom communities and others do much more for attracting jobs and industry.

A formula that doesn’t create a suburbs-versus-outstate fight is best for the long run. It’s also nice to see the organizations representing Greater Minnesota and Metropolitan Minnesota agree.

We urge state legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to consider and adopt the proposed formula change.