NEW LONDON -- Like most small town governments, the New London City Council was worried about state cuts even before the legislative session ended. Now, with Gov. Tim Pawlenty poised to take away $2.7 billion in money that had been promised to entities like New London, the concern is even greater.
At its meeting Wednesday, the City Council spent much of the evening discussing the budget, budget reserves, undesignated funds, what should be saved and what should be spent.
"There are no answers from the state yet, and we have to be prepared for anything," said City Administrator Trudie Guptill.
Mayor Bill Gossman had returned from a mayor's conference with more grim news. Guptill said there is "not a bright outlook" for funding for cities and it will be up to city councils to fix their own financial problems.
Other entities that rely on the city spending money for programs made their case before the council to continue their support despite potential cuts in state aid.
The city had earlier said it was considering cutting its funding for senior transportation to the Kandiyohi Area Transit and was thinking about eliminating street sweeping to cut expenses.
Tiffany Collins, KAT transit director, said New London's $2,500 allocation provides money for a state matching grant. She said eight to 10 New London residents ride the KAT bus to Willmar every day.
Representatives from the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District pleaded with the council to keep sweeping streets, saying it was one of the best ways of reducing phosphorous and other solids from entering the river. Funding from the watershed district might be available to actually increase street sweeping in town, said Guptill.
The council is hoping to get some direction from residents on where the city should spend its money during a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 17 at the Fire Hall.
In other action, on a 3-1 vote the council turned down a request for a permit by a resident who wanted to keep two chickens in a cage in her garage. Gossman was the only one to support the request. Councilman John Mack was absent. Councilmen John Bergman, Corky Beck and Kevin Dittbenner voted no.
Some councilmen said they didn't think living in a cage in a garage was a "good life" for a chicken and others feared too many other residents would ask for permits to have chickens in town.