City may lose more aid

by Tom Coombe

The city of Ely could lose over $200,000 in state aid unless state lawmakers correct a mistake in the funding formula.<BR><BR>Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has indicated he’ll certify local government aid payments next month under terms of current law, which due to an error in how legislation was drafted last year, would trim Ely’s allocation to about $1.25 million, or $200,000 less than expected.<BR><BR>Ely may suffer as a result of a dispute between legislators and Pawlenty.<BR><BR>Plans to correct the error were among many initiatives that went by the wayside when the 2004 legislative session ended in impasse.<BR><BR>And while Pawlenty certified LGA in 2003 based on the intent of the legislation, rather than the current law, he’s shown no willingness to do so this time around, much to the chagrin of Ely city officials.<BR><BR>“He lived with the intent last year and this year’s he’s not living with the intent,” said Ely Mayor Frank Salerno. “This could cost us another $200,000 and this again reflects on the need for a special (legislative) session. We need this work done. We need a special session and the governor needs to see the problems facing us, not just here in Ely but all over the state. Quite frankly, it’s time the governor called for a special session.”<BR><BR>Reductions in LGA the last two years, brought on by massive state budget deficits, have already created budget strife in Ely.<BR><BR>The city lost over $300,000 in state assistance the last two years, and Salerno said he doesn’t know how Ely could stand a further reduction.<BR><BR>“It would be very, very difficult (to lose another $200,000),” said Salerno. “We waited and studied before we decided what to do with the dispatcher positions (Ely eliminated its emergency dispatching service in a cost-cutting move). There won’t be any knee-jerk reactions. We’ll think it through and make the decisions that have to be made.”<BR><BR>