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Duluth mayor, state coalition ask gubernatorial candidates to take LGA stand

Duluth Mayor Don Ness and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities are calling on the state's gubernatorial candidates to take a stand on local government aid.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities are calling on the state's gubernatorial candidates to take a stand on local government aid.

At a morning news conference, Ness, Duluth City Councilor Sharla Gardner and Park Rapids Mayor Nancy Carroll expressed how the decreasing amount of state money to city governments can result in cuts to parks and recreation, libraries and other programs.

"The effects have been devastating," Gardner said. "The cuts are eroding the quality of life we have in Duluth."

A graph from the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities showed LGA being slashed in half from $759 million in 2002 to $424 million for 2010.

LGA was established to help decrease property taxes, but with cuts to LGA, cities have had to scale back programs and or increase property taxes, Ness said.

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"Cities are at a breaking point," Carroll said during the coalition's statewide campaign. "They've been dealt cut after cut after cut."

Ness added: "We are as lean as we can be."

The concept of LGA gave Minnesotans the opportunity to become homeowners, but the cuts are making that more difficult, Ness said.

"That success story is now at risk," he said.

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