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Letter: Willmar must be regional leader

Olivia Mayor Sue Hilgert’s Letter to the Editor published Nov. 22 in the West Central Tribune made several very good points.

She rightly points out that cities need to work together and that doing so offers many mutual benefits.

I, too, attended the recent Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities conference in Alexandria and found it to be a great opportunity to exchange ideas, suggestions and for preparing for the possibilities and challenges that await Greater Minnesota cities in regard to the upcoming legislative session. Cities provide many of the “nuts and bolts” services that affect the everyday lives of citizens. The CGMC has proven invaluable by speaking up for the many aspects of public policy that affect our rural cities.

The CGMC was a true leader in reforming the Local Government Aid formula during the 2013 legislative session. That reform will provide the City of Willmar with an additional $386,932 in LGA during 2014, funding which will help provide a big step toward restoring services and “catching up” from the many years of LGA cuts which drove property taxes up sharply.

Instead of trimming the City of Willmar’s budget by cutting off membership in the CGMC, we need Willmar to remain the integral partner it has been during the many years that our cities have struggled to maintain funding for important services to our citizens.

As a true regional center, Willmar has a unique role to fill for our part of the state. We need the City of Willmar to step up and maintain that leadership role. We assume that Willmar needs the area cities’ support as well and we look forward to continue working together to strengthen west central and southwestern Minnesota.

As Mayor Hilgert said, be part of the solution.

Dave Smiglewski

Mayor, City of Granite Falls