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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.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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