State shutdown impacts local governments

Staff Reports
Isanti County News

With a June 30 State budget deadline looming, Isanti County leaders and city officials are preparing for a possible State government shutdown. Local officials offer potential impacts that could result from a shutdown.

Kevin VanHooserIsanti County Administrator

“All department heads are staying on top of how a state shutdown would affect programs. One of the things I picked up at this year’s Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) conference was don’t start any big projects before July 1 since state-funded payments may be delayed a month or two.”

Penny MesserIsanti County Family Services Director

At the June 15 County Board meeting, Messer and fiscal supervisor Mark Jensen said Family Services will be getting its full levy at the end of June, so that should keep things running okay for the short-term. A mandated reserve balance is also maintained in the department which can be tapped if the state shutdown is prolonged.

“Beyond that, what is kept on the ‘critical’ list by the state is key. Thirty-three percent of our funding comes from the federal, and that will continue. For example, our food support is federally funded,” said Messer. “The Governor supplemented certain essential areas of Family Service, such as Medicaid, so providers and contracted vendors get paid for services. All our consumers did receive letters explaining what could occur during the potential shutdown, but we still received a high volume of calls and drop-ins from concerned individuals. In the advent off a shutdown, we’ll try to keep our all employees working; they just may have to switch around to find duties in areas which are still operating.”

Caroline MoeCity of Cambridge, Director of Finance

“The biggest impact a State Shutdown would have on the city of  Cambridge would be in regard to cash flow. We are supposed to receive one-half of our Local Government Aid (LGA) in July, and we don’t expect to receive that payment of approximately $376,000. However, the damage will be minimized because we have strong reserve policies in place which help us manage through these type of contingencies.

“We have continued to maintain higher fund reserves because of the uncertainties with the state. We are disappointed the state hasn’t been able to come to a resolution and are concerned how our local citizens will be impacted in the future.”

Cambridge City Administrator Lynda Woulfe noted the 2nd Ave. bridge reconstruction project would not be impacted by a State shutdown.

George Wimmer, Isanti Mayor

The city of Isanti uses LGA funding (local government aid) allocated the previous year and does not budget LGA, so Isanti would not be impacted in a shutdown.

“The only way a shutdown would affect us in our operating budget is in the unlikely event they don’t reach a settlement by December,” he said. “The only project it could affect is the 4th Ave. street project because it’s municipal state aid money; the money is there but in the shutdown there would be no one there to cut the checks, so it could impact all state-funded road projects.”

Sally Hoy
Braham City Administrator

“We could probably survive very short-term with the shutdown, being careful with our spending and hobbling along. With a shutdown, it looks like the state will not send out the Local Government Aid (LGA) payments which we would normally get mid-July. So we are operating on the LGA we received last December. It also looks like the state is not going to send out any fire and police aid, either.”
Greg WinterSuperintendent, Braham Area Schools

Winter noted during the June 20 school board meeting that in the event of a shutdown, the school district will not receive state funding for the duration of the shutdown. The district has sufficient funds to get through the end of August, but would not have enough to open school in the fall if the government is still shut down.

“The only projects that would be put on hold would be those that did not receive the proper permits prior to the start of the projects. We did inform all of the contractors to take care of the permits well in advance. Other than the permits we should be in real good shape for our summer projects.

Bruce Novak, Superintendent, Cambridge-Isanti Schools

Novak noted at the June 23 school board meeting that the district does need to be aware of the impending shutdown, but the district is okay at this time.

“Some districts are talking about using all the reserves they have, and some are talking about not opening their doors. We don’t know how long this will go on, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of it. We need to be concerned, but not too concerned at this time. But if it goes longer than two months, then we will have to come back to strategize. But we are okay for a while.”

Anoka-Ramsey Community College will remain open

Layoff notices to more than 6,000 employees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system are being rescinded and classes will continue July 1 in the event of a government shutdown, officials said Monday.

“We are grateful that the education of our students will not be interrupted,” Chancellor James H. McCormick said. “Minnesota Management and Budget has informed us that the needed services will be provided, and we will be able to continue system operations through the summer and fall terms.”

The state colleges and universities are serving 67,000 students this summer. Many more students enroll and register for classes during the summer months. In anticipation of a possible shutdown of the system, layoff notices were sent earlier in June to more than 6,000 of the system’s clerical workers, information technology technicians, middle managers and other classified employees. The notices will be rescinded, and salaries and benefits also will continue uninterrupted.

The system’s continued operation will be funded through existing tuition receipts and fund balances at each of the colleges and universities. The higher education appropriations bill awaits resolution along with other state operating budgets.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 277,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 157,000 students in noncredit courses.