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State aid cuts lower than expected for city, county

Wadena wasn't hit as hard by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's announcement of local government aid cuts on Tuesday as city officials expected.

"It's almost half of what we were expecting," Mayor Wayne Wolden said.

The unallotment for Wadena is $68,538 in 2009 and $158,142 in 2010. The city had anticipated cuts as high as $118,000 this year, Wolden said.

The city receives around $1.3 million a year in LGA and the unallotment amounts to a 3.31 percent reduction this year. That may not seem like a lot, Wolden said, but $60,000 is a police officer.

The city has already identified around $85,000 in cuts such as delaying a street overlay, bandstand repair and the city's comprehensive plan, he said. If the city council wants to keep those cuts it will have to affirm that, otherwise it may look at other areas to reduce.

Attrition is another option, Wolden said. The city recently reached a settlement with an employee and will have to decide if it wants to replace that position.

The city can handle the $68,538 cut this year, but the $158,142 reduction next year will be more difficult, he said.

"Wadena will be OK this year," Wolden said.

Wadena County's unallotment was also less than expected, according to an e-mail from Auditor/ treasurer Char West. Unallotment for the county totaled $100,295 in 2009 and $203,629 for 2010. The reduction this year is a 1.19 percent reduction of county program aid.

The county already approved 2009 budget reductions totaling $509,761 in anticipation of the unallotment. Commissioners agreed to put the extra reductions toward the county's reserve.

Other local governments affected by unallotment include:

• New York Mills -- $24,437 in 2009 and $56,387 in 2010

• Menahga -- $21,314 in 2009 and $49,180 in 2010

• Park Rapids -- $74,778 in 2009 and $172,541 in 2010

• Staples -- $58,216 in 2009 and $134,326 in 2010.

Poor cities with populations fewer than 1,000 and counties with populations fewer than 5,000 were spared aid cuts.

The city of Wadena was affected by last December's unallotment from the state to the tune of $81,239. The county's unallotment was $133,049.

Capitol correspondent Don Davis contributed to this report