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Sewer-system payments threaten tiny Tamarack’s finances

A bill in the Legislature would help the tiny city of Tamarack  in Aitkin County deal with big financial problems.

The tiny city of Tamarack in Aitkin County is facing big financial problems because of a sewer project that ran amok.

Operational costs for the system, which is said to be far too large for the city’s needs, are eating up the city’s budget, so now a bill has been introduced in the Legislature to help out, says House Public Information Services.

The state would provide a little cushion for the city — $12,000 in extra local government aid next year — so city officials can have more time to work out the problem. Without the help, Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick, a Republican from Deer River, said the city could face bankruptcy.

“With a quarter of the town’s hookups delinquent on their fees, the operational costs are consuming all the city finances,” McElfatrick told the House Property and Local Tax Division, which passed the measure and moved it to the House Taxes Committee.

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Not everyone was on board, though: DFL Rep. Tim Mahoney of St. Paul said: “The town can’t afford to maintain the system. For you to come here and ask for us to maintain a system that doesn’t work, that was paid for by the tax dollars and there is absolutely no plan for the next 20 years for what kind of system to put in, much less how to pay for it, begs a question … but I won’t ask it.”