Small cities get bump in state aid
Happy days are here again for small cities that rely on state aid to help pay for essential services such as police and fire protection, and to keep local property taxes down.
That's because the state Legislature approved a bill, expected to be signed as soon as this week by Gov. Tim Walz, that restores local government aid to its 2002 level — its highest point since the program began in 1972.
The bill includes a $26 million increase in LGA for 2020, followed by an additional $4 million boost in 2021, bringing total funding for the program to $564 million.
As a result, cities throughout Douglas County will receive more money. Here's how much more they'll get in 2020 compared to this year, according to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities:
Alexandria — $36,238
Brandon — $5,935
Carlos — $11,060
Evansville — $12,537
Garfield — $5,010
Kensington — $3,346
Millerville — $758
Miltona — $8,651
Nelson — $1,647
Osakis — $29,319
The increase was a top goal of the coalition, which has 97 city members, including Alexandria and Osakis.
The coalition said it's vital for the nearly 90 percent of cities in Minnesota that rely on LGA to help pay for city services such as public safety, street maintenance, parks and libraries.
While LGA has received occasional boosts in funding in recent years, cities have still been playing catch-up since drastic cuts to the program in the mid-2000s, according to the coalition.