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Stillwater looking at pre-emptive budget cuts, in case state finances worsen

Worried that the state’s budget situation might get even worse, Stillwater officials are looking at a pre-emptive strike: cutting even more from their 2009 budget, in case Gov. Tim Pawlenty tries to unallot more.

Stillwater City Administrator Larry Hansen told City Council members Tuesday that he’ll be looking for further cuts, says the Stillwater Gazette.

“I firmly believe that the governor will take more than what he’s told us he’s going to take,” Hansen said.

And he said “his pre-emptive cuts could include mandatory furloughs or additional layoffs, but he won’t have time to look at the issue in more detail until he finishes the first draft of the city’s 2010 budget, which is due in early September,” the paper reports.

The governor’s office told the paper that, although things could change, the governor has no plans to go beyond the $64.2 million he already trimmed from cities’ 2009 local government aid and market value homestead credit reimbursements.

Legislators, though, worry.

“It’s entirely possible, looking at the shortfall, that the governor will have to do more unallotments, although I don’t have any indication where those would be,” Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, told the paper.

And the League of Minnesota Cities urges caution.

“I’ve been cautioning our city officials to just be very conservative,” said Gary Carlson, the LMC’s intergovernmental relations director. “The budget forecast assumes an economic recovery, but if we don’t see the recovery come as quickly as we thought, those forecast numbers could be inflated.”

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