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Willmar City Council gives approval to '11 budget survey

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has approved conducting a community survey to assist the council in determining city budget funding priorities for 2011. The council approved the survey Tuesday night.

"The City Council just felt that in the process of dealing with the 2011 budget and in anticipation that there may be more difficulty with the Local Government Aid program they wanted to get some feedback from the residents of Willmar with regard to what they think the city's priorities should be. Then the council will take those results into consideration when they're formulating their budget for next year,'' said City Administrator Michael Schmit.

The survey will ask questions in four areas:

- Select the top 10 municipal programs or activities that should be priorities in 2011.

- Whether or not citizens would support a tax increase, fee increases, and/or cuts in municipal services.

- How well the city has maintained service levels.

- Other thoughts, opinions or concerns regarding the city budget and finances.

The entire survey will be published in the Tribune and the survey will be available on the Tribune's website at

The survey is also available at the city's website,, and at the KWLM Radio website at

The deadline for completing the survey is July 21. Citizens who prefer to submit the written form can submit the survey in person at the Willmar City Offices at 333 Sixth St. S.W., or mail it to Willmar City Offices, PO Box 755, Willmar, MN, 56201.

The results will be tabulated, and will be discussed by the full council at a work session on July 26.

The council is in the process of establishing priorities while it prepares for eventual cuts, according to officials. Generally speaking, city expenditures fall into the following categories:

- General government.

- Public safety.

- Public works.

- Library services.

- Capital improvements and equipment.

- Waste water treatment.

- Other charges and debt redemption.

The survey is being taken to help guide Mayor Les Heitke who is responsible for proposing the budget and the council as it studies and eventually approves the budget.

The survey will be taken as Willmar and other cities face dire financial problems during the next few years as a result of the state's projected budget deficit and possible LGA cutbacks. LGA accounts for 28 percent of Willmar's general operating fund and further cuts could significantly affect city services, officials believe.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150