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By Dave Olson, Published June 18 2009

Entenza says Pawlenty's unallotments will mean higher property taxes

A Democratic candidate for Minnesota governor said Wednesday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed unallotments will mean property tax increases for outstate Minnesota cities and counties.

“The governor continually says he’s not raising taxes. The reality is, he’s just shifting taxes so they are done by counties and cities,” said Matt Entenza, a former Minnesota state representative in St. Paul for 12 years.

During a stop Wednesday in Moorhead, Entenza took aim at Pawlenty’s proposed unallotments, which would cut $200 million in local aid to cities and townships and $100 million to counties.

Entenza said based on projections prepared by the nonpartisan Minnesota State House Research Department, outstate cities such as Moorhead and East Grand Forks face higher potential property tax increases than wealthier suburbs in the Twin Cities,

“That is not a coincidence,” he said.

A spokesman for the governor said every level of the state, from private households to state government, is cutting back in these difficult times.

“For cities to have to trim their operating budgets by no more than 3.31 percent this year and no more than 7.64 percent next year is not unreasonable,” said Alex Carey, the governor’s press secretary for greater Minnesota.

“It’s not written in law that these cities need to raise taxes for every dollar in state aid that is cut,” Carey added.

“These cities need to look at their operations and utilize efficiencies and do what everybody else is doing and eliminate some of the spending that isn’t necessary,” Carey said.

Diane Wray Williams, a Moorhead City Council member who stood by Entenza during his stop in Moorhead, said there is little to cut in the city’s budget that will not affect crucial services.

“In a city budget, almost all your money goes for services, salaries. If we can’t make it (financially), it means people’s jobs,” said Williams.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555