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Cloquet to lose nearly a million dollars in state-aid reduction

Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger was pretty much right on the money, so to speak, regarding the reduction in state aid that Gov. Tim Pawlenty put forth for the city in his budget proposal Tuesday.

Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger was pretty much right on the money, so to speak, regarding the reduction in state aid that Gov. Tim Pawlenty put forth for the city in his budget proposal Tuesday.

"I could be waking up to worse news," Fritsinger said Wednesday morning about the amount to be reduced from cities' local government aid. "At least now we know where we're at."

Pawlenty's budget proposal cuts government aid to Cloquet by $960,000. Fritsinger and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren had predicted a cut of up to $1.2 million at last week's city council meeting.

As part of his plan to balance the budget, Pawlenty proposed cutting LGA from cities by 5 percent this year and 11 percent in 2010.

"The upside is that we have some breathing [room] to work toward a solution since we aren't starting with a big cut right off the bat," Fritsinger said.

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The city's approved budget for this year is $6.7 million, which will leave Fritsinger and other city officials seeking ways to make up the loss.

"At this point, our budget remains at $6.7 million," he said. "But we are continuing to move ahead in our process to see where we can reduce expenditures."

City councilors are taking a hard look at all the services the city provides in the community, from police to streets to general administration. In the meantime, all capital projects such as work to improve streets and parks remain on hold.

"We'll keep those on hold until we have a chance to understand the greater details of what [Pawlenty] is proposing and if any strings are attached," Fritsinger said.

Fritsinger will participate in a meeting Friday hosted by the League of Minnesota Cities where he expects to learn about those specifics and see if any opportunities exist to obtain funding from the proposed federal economic stimulus package.

"We have a lot of work to do to find the solution," Fritsinger said.

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