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Saturday, August 30, 2008

County Program Aid

Just as there is Local Government Aid (LGA) for cities, so there is County Program Aid. We have already reviewed the LGA for the ten cities in Chisago County. Now consider the state aid to Chisago County government. Statewide, for 2009 there is $42 million LGA and $28 million County Program Aid, for a grand total of $70 million for all 87 counties and 853 cities in the state.

Here are the historical amounts of state aid received by Chisago County. Data is taken from here and here.

Chisago County will receive $367,597 more County Program Aid in 2009 than in 2008 ($2,251,681 - $1,884,084). However, some of that was a projected increase under the old law. The County will receive a $259,826 increase in County Program Aid over the projected amount under the old law ($2,251,681 - $1,991,855).

The 2003 aid allocated to Chisago County under a 2002 Democrat controlled House was cut by the Republicans in 2003 to balance the $4.2 billion state deficit. It was reduced the following two years before it was increased.

The Dems controlled the House in 2007 and 2008, but provided only modest increases for the County. The projected increase for 2009 was significant, but greatly increased by the Democrats under new law.

They want you to believe they are very generous and the Republicans are stingy, but compare the current numbers to previous numbers. The 2009 amount of $2,251,681 still does not rise to the level of the certified aid in 2003 and just tops the level of what was paid in 2003.

Rep. Jeremy Kalin reports, ". . . the legislature increased state aid to Chisago County and area cities more than $425,000 to reduce property tax bills. We also added $25 million more for direct homeowner property tax rebates." So I take it he is saying there is a combined $450,000 more state aid to Chisago County government and its ten cities. Look at Chart 1.

If Kalin is using the 2008 aid figures, then he understated the amount of new aid by $217,000 ($667,000 - $450,000).

If Kalin is using the 2009 projected figures under the old law as a starting point, then he overstated the amount of new aid by $68,000 ($450,000 - $382,000), as illustrated in Chart 2.

In either case, combined, the County and cities receive more state aid. I point out the above disparity with Kalin’s stated figure to draw attention to the imprecision and lack of documentation in Kalin’s reports to his constituents. (I may be missing some aid numbers, but I do not know what they are.)

Undoubtedly, many of his readers are not interested in supporting details. However, many of us are. Simple footnotes or additional explanations would serve him well to provide supporting documentation for his assertions. There is plenty of space on his web site to do just that.

It appears he has understated the amount of new dollars in the case above. On the other hand, he may not want us to know about some of the details, as we have noted previously, because the new LGA law actually hurts several cities in the county.

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