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 Response Page - Schreiber  Interview -      


These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bill Schreiber Interview of
07-16-10.
.

 
The Questions:

On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how you rate the following options:
 
1. (4.0 average response) Consolidation.  It's impractical to think that the number and levels of local government in Minnesota can be significantly reduced.
 
2. (6.1 average response) Contracting for Services.  The Legislature ought to enable small cities to become "villages" and contract for all municipal services, similar to the approach taken by townhouse and condominium associations.
 
3. (3.6 average response) State Aid.  State aid to cities should continue and be set at levels that are as close as possible to what cities are receiving now.
 
4. (6.8 average response) Aid Reduction. If needed to balance the state's budget, state aid to cities should be reduced.
 
5. (5.3 average response) Aid for Public Safety. If reductions are required in state aid to cities, the Legislature should first consider replacing existing state aid for general purposes with a new form of state aid limited to public safety.
 
6. (4.9 average response) Local Sales Tax.  The Legislature should not allow more cities to impose local sales taxes for general government purposes.

R.C. Angevine  (2.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

2. Contracting for Services. I'm not sure about the "villages" concept but do think there is merit in local governments banding together to achieve scale economy in the provision of services.  Whether that would involve contracting for municipal services or providing them internally would be an economic decision in most cases. 

3. State Aid. I do believe that those who can afford it should help those who cannot within reason.  Beyond that I am not in favor of state aid as a method of funding government services. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. I do believe that there are services that are best performed by the government (vs. private contractors) and that to the extent required for the safety of the population they must be funded. 

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

Jack Evert  (2.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (10)

1. Consolidation. We aren't going to get out of this financial mess and see things back the way they were before.  Accordingly, I think it is possible that some smaller local governments might be interested in combining to the benefit of their citizens, even considering their loss of identity. 

2. Contracting for Services. This is contrary to my above point about the need of consolidation to improve efficiency.  I don't see any benefit to allowing this to happen. 

3. State Aid. If we don't do this, then at least we need to have a transition period of certainty during which LGA is reduced to a sustainable level.  This will allow the municipalities to adjust their spending and revenue generation so they can sustain whatever level of services that their people want. 

4. Aid Reduction. Subject to an orderly transition as noted above.  

6. Local Sales Tax. This is anarchy!  We could have all sorts of strange things happen based on some of the strange people we elect at the local level.  The state should be the one determining sales tax.

Bruce A. Lundeen  (2.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Consolidation. It seems the major cities are adequately organized and represented, but smaller cities not so much. 

Dave Broden  (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Consolidation. The concept of reducing the number of elements of government has long been a discussion point and is a welcomed topic. To make this work there must be some understanding that local Identity is a stronger driver than saving costs. People relate to the local area and to take this away without adding value in some other way is not a sound policy. I support effective consolidation that may eliminate over-lap or excessive costs, but to do this we need some credible cost-saving numbers not just the idea that there are too many governmental units. The process of changing the number is thus the need, and when it is worked to the point that local identity is not lost, then it will be possible to reduce many functions. 

2. Contracting for Services. This is a very reasonable process which ensures local control and decisions. 

3. State Aid. LGA is critical to ensure uniform quality of life across Minnesota. We do not want to cause a wide disparity of capability or quality across Minnesota by removing key resources. We must however change how the money is defined and how it is used. 

4. Aid Reduction. If budget reduction is the focus then some adjustment must be made, but we need to be careful not to create a new issue and [a new] need later [by] doing the wrong things now. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. I agree strongly with this statement but would broaden the topic from only public safety to include items such as water quality, sewer, and other similar issues. 

6. Local Sales Tax. This should be permitted on a somewhat limited basis so that no barriers are developed between cities, counties etc.

Bert LeMunyon  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)

2. Contracting for Services. Small cities/towns that are geographically close should work together in the procurement of goods and services to realize economies of scale. 

3. State Aid. Cities need to know what to expect from state aid so they can plan accordingly. 

4. Aid Reduction. Yes, but no more than state agencies.  Also, cities must not be able to respond by making up the shortfall by raising property taxes without cutting back on municipal expenses. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. State aid should be provided to ensure a minimum level of public safety.

Don Anderson  (2.5)  (0)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (5)

Bob White  (0)  (7.5)  (0)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

Kathy Sheran  (7.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (5)

1. Consolidation. Townships really oppose their elimination or consolidation. Combining Counties?  Mankato tried to combine a just a service (public safety) with the county sheriffs and failed.  Shared services and collaboration incentives have enjoyed more success...but reducing units of government has been on the top of many agendas for cost-saving ideas for years ... without success. 

2. Contracting for Services. Uncommited.  

3. State Aid. The cuts have been disproportionately impacting rural communities with lower property wealth. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. The function of regional centers and the services they provide for larger groups...especially in rural area where they are the jobs centers means more than public safety is needed to be supported through LGA. LGA is properly designed to consider communities with low property wealth, higher untaxed property etc., and is [an] important tool to avoid suburban creep, abandonment of inner cities, uncontrolled encroachment just outside cities by homeowners who enjoy the benefits of a city without paying for them.   The consequences of this idea is that just outside a city...property taxes will be lower...people seek to avoid higher property taxes driven in part by lowered aid...there is a press to have urban development outside the city and the problems mount over time from both flight and lost wealth from those escaping the city as it blights or deteriorates. This flight from the city causes conflicts with AG as the demand for urban environment in a rural area increases.  The value of LGA to the metro area comes from the relief they experience from not having tax policy that drives people and businesses just outside the city, increasing metro congestions, and miles of lanes needed to serve the commuters. Policies like limiting LGA to only public safety will starve communities who could be part of the state’s economic success in ways that return on the investment in LGA. 

6. Local Sales Tax. In isolation this is not a good question.  The increasing number of requests for local option sales tax has been a response in part to the state’s reductions in local government aid especially for communities who are regional centers that provide regional services but have a small property tax base supporting those regional services. This idea should not be considered outside a comprehensive consideration of tax reform.

Polly Bergerson  (0)  (10)  (2.5)  (5)  (5)  (0)

1. Consolidation. We keep reinventing the wheel with each level of local government. It is time to agree to get along and share the services that are available. 

2. Contracting for Services. If there were a village contract in geographic areas, there could be one overarching local government to serve the set of villages 

3. State Aid.  Less money should go through the state. It should be collected and used at the local level -- reducing the size of state government.

6. Local Sales Tax. Local income producing revenue should be allowed.

John Sievert  (2.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

1. Consolidation. Macroeconomics has a wonderful way of focusing one's thinking.  Look at California as an example - run away spending on an incredible number of public programs and largesse runs headlong into the hard fact that there is no money; a fact that doesn't change regardless of how much one wishes it to.  So, hard choices become clear. 

3. State Aid.  Communities ought to be able to make their own choices.  One size does not fit all from the state.  Reduce state taxes and interference and the services will be decided and more efficiently funded locally.

6. Local Sales Tax. Let cities make these choices to fund their own issues.

W.D.(Bill) Hamm  (10)  (0)  (0)  (10)  (5)  (10)

1. Consolidation. Sadly, I seriously doubt it will stop you big cidiots Socialists from trying.

2. Contracting for Services. Stay out of our affairs you Socialist scum. You are trying every way you can to eliminate opportunity for non college grads to participate in the system. 

3. State Aid. End all Socialist ties to the state government, and all the control mechanisms that go with it. 

4. Aid Reduction. End all Socialist control mechanisms now. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. Only if the Socialist control mechanisms are eliminated leaving decision making unaltered and uninfluenced at the local level. 

6. Local Sales Tax. This has become a patchwork of stupidity that attacks the lowest income citizens unfairly. The one thing both the Rich (republicans) and Middle Class scum (Elitist Democrats) can always be counted on to agree on.

Anonymous  (0)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)

1. Consolidation. The public may [be] at the point where a good plan to do this would be favorably received; certainly most individuals have little contact with local government except to pay taxes; the idea of local import is overplayed. 

2. Contracting for Services. The problem is that this assumes a savings, not necessarily true. 

3. State Aid. Aid should be designed to balance riches, equal opportunity and access; beyond that, local services should be local taxes. 

4. Aid Reduction. With the above parameters.

5. Aid for Public Safety. Again this is an need issue, some areas of the state do not have the costs/need for public safety agencies that others do.  The state could give assistance by strengthening services in expert areas for example the BCA lab services, but today counties and cities are duplicating these services. Why not have emergency services run on a regional basis; specialized investigators in most areas should be BCA agents; the fear of state cops is still strong in rural areas but need[s] to be eliminated. 

6. Local Sales Tax. Your point about merchandising centers is valid, but few counties have major power plants, or large industrial operations, so why is this different.

Michael Martens  (0)  (2.5)  (0)  (10)  (0)  (10)

2. Contracting for Services. All cities should able to contract for services. 

3. State Aid. LGA should be eliminated. That money should go directly to property tax payers that need it the most.  The rich benefit more from LGA than the poor & middle class.

Peter Hennessey  (7.5)  (10)  (0)  (10)  (2.5)  (0)

1. Consolidation. What's wrong with local representation and local control? The closer the decision making is to the people being served, the better and more appreciated the service. 

2. Contracting for Services. There is no reason for any level of government to duplicate services that are available in the private sector. Government should never compete with the private sector. Ideally government should be in the role of a customer or at worst a contract administrator for the services they need. 

3. State Aid. I don't see why there should be any state aid to cities. All levels of government should be self-sufficient and live within their budgets. 

4. Aid Reduction. I don't see why there should be any state aid to cities. All levels of government should be self-sufficient and live within their budgets. If the excuse for State aid to cities (or other lower levels) is that the State mandates certain services to be delivered, then do away with those mandates. Let the locals decide what they want and pay for their own needs. If the State requires certain services to be state-wide, then let the State run it and pay for it. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. See previous comment. 

6. Local Sales Tax. Always the locals decide what they want and pay for their own needs. Let them decide if they can or want to compete with neighboring jurisdictions on the basis of tax rates and their effect on such things as local commerce and industry.

Dennis Johnson  (2.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (0)  (0)  (10)

6. Local Sales Tax. The Civic Caucus, or its successors, will be talking about these same questions twenty years from now, with no resolution. Since the budget deficit is right now, just cut the budget across the board ten, twelve or whatever per-cent is necessary to cope with the budget crisis and let all department heads and recipients of funding deal with the cuts as best they can. Watch Gov. Christie of New Jersey - he cut through all the complexity and is cutting the budget! New taxes are the wrong answer at all levels - any increases will become permanent and this just kicks the can down the road. A budget cut is the only way to drive reforms and cutbacks of excess benefits and unneeded expenses.   

Mary Rossing  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)  (10)  (0)

1. Consolidation. Community identity is very important to residents of a town/city/township.  However, citizens don't care as much about where their services come from, so there may be efficiencies in shared services if towns are in close proximity.  Rural towns have a harder time because of geography. 

2. Contracting for Services. We already contract for many services, but there has to be savings in order to make this a better alternative--depends on the size of the town and the need.  The more important thing is that the State mandates so many of the practices that towns have to comply with and these are unfunded, thus tying local government's hands on what they can get accomplished. 

3. State Aid. Without State aid, smaller communities will have a harder time doing any joint planning or sharing or services.  There is already a "circle the wagons" mentality as cities and counties have to look out for their own crumbling budgets.  The other factor is that Market Value Homestead Credit is disappearing as well! 

4. Aid Reduction. The State needs to tell Cities what they can count on then give them tools to be able to form their own destiny.  You can't tell us what to do and then tell us there is no money to do it. 

5. Aid for Public Safety. Public Safety is one of the core services that we must provide for our citizens.  After that are sewer, water, and streets.  Help in both of these areas would be most welcome and is necessary for healthy cities. 

6. Local Sales Tax. Cities should be able to determine from a number of tools what revenue sources would be best for their community.  Sales tax could be earmarked for a specific project or category.

Note: Mary Rossing is Mayor of Northfield.

Anonymous  (0)  (10)  (0)  (10)  (0)  (0)

Shirley Heaton  ()  ()  ()  ()  ()  ()

Since this one is 'out of my league’ inasmuch as I am no longer a Minnesotan, I'm passing on this report. 

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 


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