Crookston's 2019 LGA allocation is $3,707,243

    The Minnesota Legislature during its special session last Friday agreed to increase Local Government Aid (LGA) by $26 million in 2020 and $4 million in 2021.

    For the City of Crookston, which is considered a low property tax wealth city and is perhaps more reliant on LGA funds each year than any other city in Minnesota, it means the 2020 revenue ledger will be boosted by $136,267, City Finance Director Angel Weasner tells the Times.

    In 2019, Crookston’s LGA allocation is $3,707,243.

    She said it’s not yet known how much LGA Crookston will receive in 2021 as a result of the $4 million increase.

    The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, which had sought a $30 million LGA increase this session, expressed delight over an LGA increase over the next budget biennium, which lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz agreed to during the one-day special session.

    “It took years of advocacy by city leaders and a late-night special session to get there, but funding for the Local Government Aid (LGA) program is finally being restored to its 2002 high-water mark,” the CGMC said in a statement.

     The increases bring total LGA funding for the program to $564 million.

    “Our No. 1 priority for this year was to get LGA funding back up to the 2002 level,” said Ron Johnson, who serves as CGMC president and is a member of the Bemidji City Council. “I’m ecstatic that the Legislature and Governor were able to work together to make that goal a reality. Cities all across the state, and especially in Greater Minnesota, are going to benefit from this important investment.”

    The CGMC says the LGA increase has been a long time coming for the nearly 90% of cities in Minnesota who rely on LGA to help pay for city services (such as public safety, street maintenance, parks and libraries) and restrain property taxes. While LGA has received occasional boosts in funding in recent years, cities have still been playing catch-up since drastic cuts to the program in the mid-2000s, the CGMC says in its statement.

    “As city officials, we work hard to keep our city budgets and property tax levies in check, but it is difficult when costs for everything from employee health insurance premiums to construction materials continue to rise,” Johnson said. “A great thing about LGA is that it gives cities the flexibility to make investments wherever they are most needed. With this bump in funding, some cities will be able to hire an additional firefighter or replace a beaten up old snowplow, while others might use the extra LGA to hold down their levies.”