Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Map shows Minnesota cities that have cut public safety budgets
Over the past 15 months, Minnesota cities have absorbed more than $250 million in cuts to Local Government Aid and Market Value Homestead Credits – funding used to pay for a variety of city services, including police and fire protection, street maintenance, park and recreation services, and others. Additional cuts have been proposed during the 2010 Legislative Session, as well. Immediately prior to the initial cuts through unallotment in December 2008, the League of Minnesota Cities began informally compiling city budget-balancing “actions taken” and “actions considered” by tracking news clips from throughout the state, collecting anecdotes from member cities during a series of regional meetings, communicating with member cities via e-mail, and extracting data from member surveys. Though current statuses of considered actions are not known and some actions may be represented more than once, the spreadsheet includes over 4,000 budget-balancing actions made or considered (primarily due to state aid cuts) by 427 cities. This particular map provides a visual representation of the magnitude of cuts specifically in the area of public safety (police, fire departments), alone. Note that some areas of the state may appear underrepresented because of lack of online news content available in those areas, among other factors. These public safety cuts may include the elimination of positions, reduced coverage, fewer training dollars, delays in the replacement of vehicles and equipment, or dissolution of the department altogether. We’ll take a look at additional city service cuts in the coming days.