Counties cope with effects of state shutdown

Posted at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2011 by Catharine Richert (0 Comments)
Filed under: Cities, Counties, Roads

20110517_centralcorridor3_39.jpgYesterday, MPR's Dan Olson took a look at how the state's two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, are coping with the government shutdown.

The short story: so far, OK.

According to Olson's report, neither county has been forced to let workers go, though Hennepin County did notify about 1,200 of its 7,500 employees that they may be laid off at some point.

In both counties, road construction continues, including the Central Corridor rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, as do county-administered services including child protection.

Still, city and county officials are most concerned about getting a state aid payment due this month that will allow them to continue offering many services without tapping reserves.

Olson writes,

Many county services are mandated by state laws and regulations. Counties rely on two checks a year from the state, called county program aid, to help pay the costs, according to Mark Stenglein, vice chairman of the Hennepin County Board.

Stenglein says it appears likely -- but not certain -- at this point that Hennepin County's next program aid check will arrive next week. It should amount to between $10 million and 14 million, depending on budget negotiations.

"Probationary services to watch offenders, or mental health services the state mandates we have to do, and they pay for it, but it's in question now and our check is due from the state," Stenglein said. "Minus that, that leaves us only to backfill it from our own property taxes."

Read Olson's entire story here.


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