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Kim Winnegge, Published December 23 2008

Dilworth council votes for 2009 budget, levy

The Dilworth City Council voted unanimously to approve its 2009 budget and levy on Monday night, on the heels of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan that would cut $64,000 from the city’s budget.

Pawlenty’s call for slashing

$110 million in spending aid for most cities and counties to cover a

$426 million budget deficit is leaving local officials scrambling.

Dilworth is out $63,852 and will now receive $233,430 instead of $297,282.

“To wait to the midnight hour to do this is not proper; it’s putting the cities in a tight spot,” said City Administrator Ken Parke. “It’s balancing the budget on the backs of local governments.”

Parke recommended cutting portions of the public safety and park funds to soften the blow of Pawlenty’s cuts.

“I feel like we need to take some steps to protect ourselves,” Parke said.

Local government aid funding is distributed to cities and counties twice a year. The second round of checks that are affected by Pawlenty’s budget cuts will be issued Dec. 26.

The city’s fiscal year ends Dec. 31 and officials won’t know for about two months if they came in under their December budget, he said.

Parke said the city may need to cut or freeze some expenditures – including the hiring of a new police officer in February – before the budget is set.

Clay County’s aid was cut by $415,152 and will get $1.24 million instead.

Pawlenty did not cut aid funding from cities with populations of less than 1,000 and counties with fewer than 5,000 residents. Unaf-fected cities include Ulen and Hitterdal.

Parke said Dilworth would use reserve funding if needed to cover its remaining 2008 expenditures.

Councilman Rick Cariveau said the council needs to be on its toes in the coming years.

“This could be a long-term battle, not a one-time deal,” he said.

Dilworth should be aware of its options “before the dust settles,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524