December 26, 2008 CONTACT: Gary Eckenberg, Deputy Administrator
St. Louis County Courthouse
For Immediate Release: Duluth, MN 218-726-2447
Governor’s Unallotment Hits St. Louis County
The announcement of Governor Pawlenty’s attempt to fill a $426 million hole in the State’s budget for the period ending June 30th of 2009 has forced St. Louis County Commissioners to examine ways to recover lost revenue of nearly $2. 1 million from expected payments to the County in program aid which was due December 15. Finance chair, Commissioner Keith Nelson said, “This is money that was included as revenue from the State in the County’s 2008 budget, so it’s already been spent. We now have no choice but to find ways to fill the void.”
At its Board meeting held Tuesday, December 23rd Commissioners began discussion to identify ways of addressing the revenue shortfall. Commissioner Dennis Fink expressed interest in developing an open and transparent plan to engage the help of County residents in finding ways to more effectively use their tax dollars. He asked County Administration to put such a plan together so that all ideas may be solicited and considered, as the County Board struggles with tough decisions about what activities and programs will continue and which ones will stop. Over the next several weeks Administration and department heads will discuss immediate actions to overcome the loss of $2.1 million.
The Governor’ s unallotment is only the first blow in what promises to be a 15 round battle as the Legislature prepares to address a projected State revenue shortfall of over $5.3 billion in the budget biennium set to begin on July 1, 2009. County boards throughout the state are watching for cuts in promised fiscal aid and programmatic support from the capitol by the end of the Legislative Session.