Cut in aid to outstate cities may result in higher property tax

Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Mayors from throughout Minnesota are calling on state lawmakers to reach a budget agreement that protects them from deep cuts.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he would cut state aid to cities and counties if he has to use line-item vetoes and unallotment to balance the state budget on his own.

During an interview Friday night on Twin Cities Public Television, DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said those cuts would result in skyrocketing local property taxes.

"They've gone up $3.6 billion over the last six years," Kelliher said. "Property taxes would actually surpass all other forms of taxes in terms of the amount collected. It would be $8 billion if the governor did that."

At a League of Minnesota Cities news conference today, Floodwood Mayor Jeff Kletscher said small cities like his are especially vulnerable. Kletscher said Floodwood has only four full-time employees.

"My toolbox is empty," Fletcher said. "We've been facing this for years. I have a very poor community, and we can't afford to see tax rates continue to go up for those folks. So we need people down here to come to an agreement that holds us harmless."

DFL House and Senate leaders said they're also concerned about the cuts to cities and counties. They say it would result in even faster-growing local property taxes. The Legislature must adjourn by midnight Monday.