County braces for possiblity of more cutsSTATE BUDGET REACT
Tim Cain pleaded for the Goodhue County commissioners' help this week. The Cannon Falls business owner said he has seen his property taxes jump from $4,000 to $18,000 in less than 10 years.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Tim Cain pleaded for the Goodhue County commissioners' help this week.
The Cannon Falls business owner said he has seen his property taxes jump from $4,000 to $18,000 in less than 10 years.
"We've got our backs against the wall," said Cain, owner of Cannon Falls Honda & Yamaha.
Commissioners told Cain they will continue to do what they can. The board already voted to freeze next year's property tax levy.
But commissioners' days of sparing local taxpayers the pain of budget cuts and slashed state aid may be numbered.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced this week he may cut local aid payments to cities and counties due later this month to help fix the state's current $1.2 billion budget hole.
The state's next two-year budget is about $5.4 billion short.
Goodhue County officials are expecting an $804,600 payment this month that is already accounted for in the 2009 budget.
Administrative assistant Andrea Benck said the county's fund balance will be affected if Pawlenty decides to pull or alter that payment. Benck said budget staff will continue planning on receiving state aid unless they hear otherwise.
"Until we have the check, we never know," she said.
County officials have been in this situation before.
Their state aid has been cut in the past, forcing commissioners to eliminate jobs and trim services to save money.
They've spent the past year discussing ways to make operations leaner and how a tough economy and future state aid cuts -- next year's budget includes $1.267 in aid -- will shape the face of county government.
County Administrator Scott Arneson said that difficult process will continue and that future cuts "will be more significant than anticipated."
"We'll be continuing pretty much the same process we've been doing over the past year," Administrator Scott Arneson said. "We knew our work was not done."
The projected deficit amount did not surprise Arneson, nor did Pawlenty's announcement he would cut aid to cities and counties.
"All of us will end up feeling part of this pain," Arneson said.