One reaction to budget cuts may have Brainerd drivers navigating snow windrows in downtown Brainerd for longer periods.
Minnesota cities are still trying to find out what a 22 percent reduction in Local Government Aid may be, but in the meantime Brainerd is considering where to cut spending, including contract snow removal.
City Engineer Jeff Hulsether said $30,000 is spent on the downtown snow removal contract and the city could save about $10,000, by discontinuing the contract. He said downtown business owners expressed a request to retain that snow removal contract. Hulsether said options include cutting city participation and assessing downtown for the total cost minus what it would cost to maintain parking lots.
Staff recommended looking at the assessment formula and assessing lots by square footage rather than frontage footage. After hearing from several downtown business owners, the council voted to change the assessment formula to the square footage and said the city will continue to participate in funding snow removal for this year.
Olson abstained from voting saying he owns property downtown.
Jon Livingston, Brainerd American Legion, said under those conditions the Legion may not be able to afford to continue to exist. Livingston said if the city withdraws funding entirely the Legion may be gone in the next five years.
Dave Pueringer, downtown property owner, suggested raising the snowfall trigger for plowing from 4 inches to 6 inches and concentrate on quick removal certain times of the year like holiday shopping. But Ed Menk, downtown business owner said going up to 6 inches would create windrows in the middle of the street and it used to take three to five days before they were removed. It causes parking problems and if people find it difficult to come downtown they will not come back. Menk also noted using the square footage formula will have Bremer Bank and Mills paying more.
John Erickson, downtown business owner, agreed with Menk saying if downtown is unattractive for any reason including snow windrows, it will negatively affect commercial activity.
Anticipating state aid cuts to local governments, the Cass County Board Tuesday set a moratorium on hiring any county employees without board approval.
The board will meet Tuesday in a special meeting to consider proposed local government aids cuts and the impact those cuts will have on Cass' budget. Possible ways to cut the 2003 county budget will be considered.
The city of Baxter receives about $127,000 in local government aid, said Baxter assistant finance officer Jeremy Vacinek, but it is unclear what impact a state reduction in these funds will have on the city. Local government aid makes up less than 4 percent of Baxter's annual budget.
Brainerd is putting its $5,000 pledge to Region 5 to assist displaced Potlatch workers on hold until the money is actually needed.
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