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Local Government Aid: Bemidji would lose nearly $900,000

The city of Bemidji would face nearly $900,000 in Local Government Aid cuts in the next two years if Gov. Tim Pawlenty's preliminary budget is adopted.

Pawlenty released on Monday his budget proposal, which includes $250 million in aid cuts to cities and counties.

Bemidji would lose $581,323 in Local Government Aid yet this year and about $302,000 for 2011, according to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

"That doesn't come as any shock to me," said Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann Monday afternoon.

Aid is a frequent target for Pawlenty cuts. If the proposal is adopted, it would be the second time in one year that cities' LGA is reduced.

Bemidji has lost nearly $1 million in LGA in the last three years, including the reduction of $485,688 that was "unallotted" by the governor late last year.

"We've had so much cut from Local Government Aid cumulatively since 2003 that another $600,000 (for 2010) is just going to be that much harder," Lehman said.

He said he hopes the citizenry of Bemidji is becoming more aware of how Pawlenty's LGA cuts are having a direct impact on property taxes. Bemidji adopted a 19.9 percent tax levy increase for 2010.

"It's getting harder and harder for cities like Bemidji to maintain services," Lehmann said.

Since Monday was Presidents Day, Lehmann said he had not spoken with city staffers on how the proposed cuts would impact the budget.

But Lehmann said cuts, if adopted, would impact services and could result in personnel cuts.

"There's only so much revenue coming in and the amount of work isn't decreasing," he said.