The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities issued this statement last week on behalf of its newly elected President Alan Oberloh:

(Grand Rapids, MN)-Citing the disappointing legislative session and government shutdown as the latest proof that vision, leadership and long-term planning are desperately needed in the state, city officials from Greater Minnesota announced today that they are focusing their efforts on building the foundation for a strong economic recovery.

The city officials met in Grand Rapids, for the annual summer conference of the Coalition of Greater MN Cities, a group of 75 communities that work together to advocate on behalf of Greater Minnesota.

Minnesota cities were once again dealt a significant budget blow during this year’s legislative session, with another round of large cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA), a program that is critical in holding down property taxes and funding critical community services like police, fire, and local economic development planning.

Expressing deep concern about the consequences of rising property taxes – which have increased over $ 3 billion dollars since 2002 – city officials were resolute that there is a larger problem facing Minnesota than the cuts alone, the lack of strategic vision and economic planning for the state.

“There are economic development and property tax policies that work, like Local Government Aid, but this is not just about cities fighting for LGA funding, this is about driving a policy debate about how we are growing and building our local and regional economies,” said Alan Oberloh, President of the Coalition of Greater MN Cities and Mayor of Worthington.

“The inaction and unwillingness of the legislature to provide long-term budget solutions and long-term planning in their policy making, has prompted local leaders to take charge and force these conversations.”  Oberloh said.  “We will not sit by and hope Greater Minnesota is positioned for growth – we are going to engage the public, our businesses and our fellow local leaders in developing strategies so our kids and grandkids inherit communities filled with opportunity and a future.”

“We have to quit talking and thinking in terms of ‘is it taxes or no taxes, is it cuts or no cuts, is it democrat or republican.’  The public is begging for politicians to quit bickering, and quit putting short-term band aids on problems – they want a long-term vision and a strategic plan that will position us for growth.  It is long overdue that Minnesota had that conversation, and we intend to get it started,” Oberloh said.

For Immediate Release: August 8, 2011

Contact: Glen Fladeboe