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Paynesville City Council discusses budget concerns related to state aid cuts

PAYNESVILLE -- Like many municipal governments in Minnesota, the Paynesville City Council is starting to discuss what projects can be financed over the next few years as cuts in state aid seem to be on the way.

Mayor Jeff Thompson said Thursday that the council began discussing project priorities during Wednesday's regular meeting. Paynesville could lose between $200,000 and $300,000 in Local Government Aid over the next three years.

According to the League of Minnesota Cities Web site, the city lost almost $50,000 of $339,073 in Local Government Aid after "unallotments" were undertaken by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in December. Thompson reiterated the city expects to lose more funding between now and 2010.

"We're looking at a couple hundred thousands dollars over a three-year period. ... So we got department heads that are looking at projects ahead and areas they can cut, just like every other city around," Thompson said. "We're not the only ones there."

Thompson said one projects on the radar is a new shelter at the city beach on Lake Koronis. The project, estimated to cost about $150,000, would include kitchen facilities and bathrooms.

Thompson said the city has finished the project design and opened it for bids. The project will progress until more information about state aid figures becomes available.

Another project the city hopes to continue is a 10-unit T-hangar at the city airport. However, Thompson said, the future of the project is unpredictable as 90 percent of the work is supposed to be reimbursed by the federal government.

"We haven't put anything really 'on hold' yet," Thompson said. "We're just looking at what we're putting in for capital improvements in the future, and maybe there will be some specific (projects) that need to be scaled back or delayed."

Thompson said the exterior repairs at City Hall are almost complete. In May, a motorist pulled into the parking lot, jumped a curb and crashed into the southwest wall of the building. According to Tribune archives, the damage was so extensive that city employees could see through the exterior wall before the hole was patched up with plywood.