Actions by the Governor, State Legislature felt here

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Actions by the Minnesota State Legislature and the Governor will impact many aspects of government operations.

For some, state legislation will provide a positive impact, while for others, there will be a negative impact.

COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS

Darin Mielke, Sibley County Public Works Director, said that he is assuming the county’s state aid for road construction and maintenance will remain “flat” except with Motor Vehicle Sales Tax that is being phased in for transportation.

The Governor signed the “lights on bill” for transportation Wednesday, which maintained funding.

Plans are to divide the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax revenue with 60% for highways and 40% for transit. The County Highway Department’s revenue from the motor vehicle sales tax is estimated to be $70,000 this year.

Last year Sibley County Public Works received $1.4 million for state aid construction funds and $145,000 for state aid maintenance.

Mielke said that he is anticipating that the county will have to cut services that are being provided. There may be less sand/salt, mowing, and less seasonal help.

He predicts that the burden will be pushed onto the local taxpayers if residents want the same level of service and maintenance. With increased oil costs, he predicted there may be no reconstruction or new construction projects, just mostly pavement overlays, seal coating, and crack sealing.

“I think our commissioners agree that it is not fair to put the burden of transportation on the taxpayers of the county,” he said.

HUMAN SERVICES

Vicki Stock, Sibley County Human Services Director, said she believes the state legislative actions will have little impact on the county budget in 2008.

State dollars were approved to offset possible federal Targeted Case Management cuts, however, at this point, the Feds haven’t implemented those cuts so Stock doesn’t know what the final outcome will be on the local tax levy. “It’s my understanding that if and when the Feds implement the cuts, the dollars set aside by the State will not cover the federal cuts 100%,” Stock said. “But until we know which targeted case management dollars and how much they will be reduced, it’s not possible to predict the final outcome.”

Dollars for mental health reform were approved but from the meetings Stock has attended thus far, it doesn’t sound as though that will negatively impact Sibley County.

As far as expanding eligibility for children in medical programs, it may increase the workload for staff but there aren’t county dollars going into those programs so shouldn’t have an effect on the local tax levy, she explained.

PUBLIC HEALTH

There will be no state cuts in funding for Sibley County Public Health, according to director Allie Freidrichs. There will be an increase in funds used for home visiting, she said. In 2007, Public Health is expected to receive $11,334.84 for this program. “The Governor’s budget looks good for Public Health,” she said.

TRANSIT

“We’ll wait and see once again.”

Those are the comments from Gary Ludwig, director of Trailblazer Transit, about the impact in transit funding from the State Legislature and the Governor.

“I don’t know the impact yet,” Ludwig said. “Maybe there will be some long term increases in rural transit. Any benefit, if any, would be negligible.”

The House and Senate had passed additional funding for transit but it was vetoed by the Governor.

CITY

Governor Pawlenty vetoed any increases in local government aid to cities. “The more local government aid the city can get, the better,” said Gaylord City Administrator Lonny Johnson. “Hopefully it’ll be sufficient to fund government services.” The amount of local government aid cities will receive in 2008 has yet to be determined.

In 2007, Gaylord received $752,495, which was a $55,859 increase from 2006. In 2007, local government aid is 68.21% of the city’s revenue.

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