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Editorial: Budgets in 2011 will have some challenges

The city of Willmar and other cities and towns in west central Minnesota are facing a challenging budget issue in the coming year.

Willmar sought some public feedback recently with a survey on setting budget priorities for the 2011 budget. While this survey is by no means a scientific survey of Willmar citizens, the survey did provide 356 responses.

This unscientific survey's top 10 priorities include:

- Public works maintenance

- Police patrol

- Drugs and gang focus

- Street construction

- Storm water management

- Water and sewer availability

- Economic development

- Police calls for service

- Fire department calls for service

- Parks

These are all worthy budget priorities for Willmar and other municipalities in west central Minnesota.

Unfortunately, making decisions on city budgets for 2011 will not be so easy anywhere in west central Minnesota.

The state of Minnesota faces a $6 billion budget deficit in 2011. Therefore, it is likely that rural cities and towns will face less local government aid from the state, making budget decisions even tougher.

Willmar and other cities and towns will need citizen input and ideas as the budget decisions are completed.

As those budget decisions are implemented, citizens will likely face fewer choices, reduced hours and less service. It is something we will all have to live with.