Austin sees slight increase in LGA; City leaders fighting for increase

Published 7:07 am Friday, July 6, 2018

Austin received only a slight increase in local government aid (LGA) in 2018 and it’s not enough, say officials.

Austin received $8,151,133 in 2018, compared to  $7,996,484 in 2017.

And, the aid is anticipated to stay relatively flat in 2019, City Administrator Craig Clark said.

City Administrator Craig Clark

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“LGA is a statutorily formula-based program,” he said. “Based on the formula, the 2019 total will be $8,162, 215.”

LGA provides cities with funding for operations while keeping property taxes down.

Clark said the city, along with other cities of Greater Minnesota, have been urging the legislature to bring LGA funding back to the higher 2002 levels as a means to help keep pace with added costs for roads and infrastructure.

“Unfortunately there was little movement on bills that would help provide that added funding,” he said. “The legislature had some resources to bring to the table, but chose not to do it for LGA.”

Clark also noted several bills failed that would have reduced funding for LGA and that some detractors came from Greater Minnesota.

“It seems like we continue to get henpecked from criticism of LGA when by all measures the program is working as it’s intended, which I can’t necessarily say about every government program,” he said.

While a new governor and legislature will be a factor next year, Clark said city leaders would continue to make a case for LGA.

“Our perspective is Minnesota does well when all of Minnesota does well, not just when the metro does well,” he said. “LGA is the primary program that helps deal with low property tax wealth and is often found in Greater Minnesota cities when we’re trying to provide the same semblance of services they enjoy in more affluent communities. That’s what we’re trying to deliver on.

“Austin would be a dramatically different community without LGA, he added. “It would likely see a substantial decrease in services and a substantial increase in taxes, which would be very detrimental.”