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County addresses Minnesota budget deficit


Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County commissioners invited department heads in for a discussion about the state budget shortfall and how the county could be affected at their March 11 meeting. The Minnesota Department of Finance announced a forecast in February of a $935 million deficit for the current biennium. The governor is allowed to reduce the general fund to close the gap. The deficit is nearly 3 times larger than predicted last November. The Finance Department predicts over a $2 billion dollar deficit for the coming biennium of 2010-2011 with inflation. Chairman Randy Dahl stated that Governor Pawlenty, according to radio and TV reports, has made it clear that he intends to veto any tax increases to cover the shortfall. Dahl suggested that this leaves cuts in the state spending which can lead to cost shifts to local units of government.

State Economist Tom Stinson maintains that the worsened deficit is the result of the downturn in the economy. He is optimistic that the downturn will be "shallow and short." However, he was concerned about the effect on the economy if the price of a barrel of oil remains above $75 per barrel. As of today, the price of a barrel has briefly hit a new record of $109 before retreating to $107.

Dahl went on to float the idea of a hiring freeze for new hires within the county government. County Engineer John Grindeland added that MnDot staff people have rumored that the governor is considering imposing levy limits for the coming biennium. Grindeland hoped the rumors were wrong.

Sheriff Daryl Jensen insisted that a hiring freeze would not be productive. When the economy turns down, his work load, meaning crime, tends to rise. Commissioner Duane Bakke maintained that levy limits don't usually work. Governments tend to levy to their limit when a limit is imposed, plus there are exceptions granted. Bakke concluded that levies may actually end up higher than without the imposed limit.

Jensen was concerned about the future of the Sentence to Serve (STS) program which may be threatened with cuts. He said that it could end as soon as June 30. Without state support the liability and responsibility would be placed on the county. Jensen praised the STS efforts in the cleanup of the city of Rushford after the flood. He estimated that the crews put in 800,000 hours of work there. The funds for the program from the state are about $35,000. Bakke suggested that a letter be sent to the governor to emphasize the work contribu .....
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Use of flood money for start-ups questioned

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - In the days immediately following the flood of 2007, it was difficult for Rushford residents and civic leaders to imagine anything worse than the muddy water covering their town and nearly everything in it.

Now, seven months later ..... 
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Rushford council accepts resignations

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

A pair of resignations bookended last Monday's city council meeting.

Christina Friederichs, Vice-Chair of the Rushford EDA, resigned her post, effective April 9.

Friederichs, Business Manager for Winona Health, had asked for time at ..... 
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Harmony hires architect for Community Center project

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

City Council members in Harmony have been looking at ways to finance the projects that need to be done at the Community Center, both to the building and the parking lot. At the regular meeting on March 11, City Administrator Jerome Illg presented th ..... 
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Spring Valley City Council holds brief meeting

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

It was one of the shortest meetings in months as the Spring Valley City Council breezed through a handful of agenda items.

Liquor License Application

An addition was made to the recently approved Liquor License for Johnny Ringo's. It ..... 
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Preston council committed to eminent domain

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Kay Ristau made a plea to the Preston City Council at the March 3 meeting to reconsider and rescind their motion of last fall to institute eminent domain proceedings to acquire land for the bicycle trail from Preston to Forestville State P ..... 
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Social Service programs reviewed

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The history, operation and goals of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and the Diversionary Work Program (DWP) were detailed at the March 4 county board meeting. Gail Bunge, Financial Assistance Supervisor, explained that the M ..... 
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Rushford City council: Joint session looks at flood loans

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - In a special joint-session of the Rushford City council and EDA on Monday, March 3, members presented tailored specific disaster loan policies to meet special-case needs, but largely decided to stick with program guidelines that have resu ..... 
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Lanesboro Council discusses need for hazardous mitigation plan

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

Lanesboro's City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman recently attended a Hazardous Mitigation meeting, and spoke to the City Council about it during their regular meeting on March 3. Information has been acquired from every city in Fillmore County regard ..... 
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