Genereux thinks it looks promising, but wonders if it would be consistently funded.
A bill introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives, if ever signed into law, would boost the amount of Local Government Aid (LGA) allocated for Crookston in 2013 and 2014, and would also potentially include inflationary increases in years beyond that.
Crookston Mayor Dave Genereux is a fan of the legislation, but he cautions that it's far from being approved, and that the devil will likely be in the details.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, of which Crookston is a member, trumpeted the introduction of the legislation in a statewide media release earlier this week. In it, the CGMC states that the introduction of the bill by State Rep. Ben Lien, a Moorhead Democrat, was preceded by an agreement between Minneapolis, St. Paul, the suburbs and greater Minnesota cities on a distribution formula for LGA, which has been a long and contentious issue.
Overall, LGA levels have dipped in cities across the state over the past decade or so. LGA is a critical component of Crookston's revenue ledger, with the city in line to receive $3.056 million in 2013 under the present allocation formula. Crookston is considered a low property-wealth city, in which a 1 percent property tax increase would bring in only around $15,000 in new revenue.
Genereux said if the current formula remains, LGA for Crookston in 2014 is poised to drop almost $100,000. Gov. Mark Dayton proposed an $80 million increase in funds appropriated for LGA, which would boost Crookston's 2013 LGA number but, according to projections, a significant decrease in LGA would follow in 2014.
Under the bill introduced in the House this week, Genereux said Crookston would receive approximately $3.5 million in LGA in 2013 and it would increase again in 2014, followed by possible small inflationary increases in LGA allocations in the following years.
"The problem is they're going to have to find the money for those increases every year and I don't know where they're going to find it," Genereux said.
The mayor credits city council member Keith Mykleseth for his lobbying efforts in St. Paul earlier this month, in which he told legislators how important LGA is to communities like Crookston. "He did a lot of lobbying on our behalf," Genereux said, noting that State Rep. Deb Kiel, a Crookston Republican, has endorsed the bill.
Matching legislation is to be introduced in the Senate as well.
"The concern is that when the economy is going good, there might be money available for these increases," Genereux said. "But if things take a turn for the worse, the fear is that they pull all this LGA back, and that would obviously be bad for Crookston and a number of communities."
Asked how it's possible for the Twin Cities, suburbs and greater Minnesota communities to all agree to something, especially something as typically contentious as LGA funding, Genereux said it comes down to "appeasing" Minneapolis and St. Paul legislators. "They have so much clout and so much representation," he said. "If you can get them to agree with you on something, that's a lot of votes in your favor. Just like if they disagree, they're going to vote against you."