Under the greatest budget pressure in years, Minnesota cities are both trimming what they do and exploring new ways to provide services. Some are organizing volunteers like never before; some are finding new means to collaborate. And many are increasingly examining what it is that residents want and don't want.
As part of its coverage of communities taking action to prepare for the future, Ground Level is focusing on what Minnesota residents are deciding their cities should do.
Cities have shared costs for years, but now they're under pressure to save even more money that way, and some are combining efforts on everything from sewage treatment to food inspection. Read more »
Among the leaders in using volunteers to provide government services, Red Wing gets about $100,000 a year worth of volunteer labor to weed and plant parks, water flowers, repair picnic tables, gather trash, maintain signs and more. Read more »
If you're trying to balance a budget in a rural Minnesota city, chances are you have run through all the options. Lay off personnel, check. Increase fees, check. Raise property taxes, check and perhaps re-think.
Where that leaves you is at the threshold of redefining how your community governs itself and redesigning how you deliver services. Read more »
With the goal of forever eliminating state local government aid money from the operating budget -- city officials came up with a plan that involved Grand Rapids borrowing money from itself to invest and prepare for the future.
What seemed like a good idea in the early 1980s — a combination recycling, steam and waste facility — has become a target in this budget-strapped city.
Many other cities are facing similar choices as state support, in the form of local government aid, keeps shrinking.
See how cities from Cambridge to Zumbrota are finding innovative ways to solve budget shortfalls.
• Brief history of Minnesota's local government finance
• Why do we have property taxes? (MN Department of Revenue)
Ground Level is a Minnesota Public Radio News project shedding light where residents are seeking ways to improve the communities they live in.
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