Now that the dust from the election is beginning to settle a bit, we’re all left to consider the implications of the outcome. And those in city government could face some hard realities.
“I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams expected both the House and Senate to flip,” said Councilor Todd Fedora of the power shift that has happened in the state legislature.
There’s even the possibility that the governorship could swing Republican, too, depending on the outcome of the pending recount.
In this increasingly conservative environment, Fedora recently asked City Administrative Officer Dave Montgomery whether the city would be prepared if state government announced more cuts in local government aid, come 2011.
The same thought had clearly crossed Montgomery’s mind.
“We already have $1.5 million in cuts baked into the budget,” he said.
While he had hoped that would be enough, Montgomery told the council that in light of the recent election results, he’s now working on contingency plans to absorb up to $4 million in reduced state aid.
Details of that plan have yet to be shared. But all of Duluth is likely to feel the pain. And it’s unlikely there will be any money in the budget to return theÂ library to more regular hours of operation.
Meanwhile, Councilor Sharla Gardner thinks there may be a local solution to recent or pending additional cutbacks in library hours. She said she’s still quite serious about trying to get a referendum on the ballot next year that would allow Duluthians to decide if they’re willing to approve a tax increase dedicated specifically to support library operations.
It’s an interesting idea. But it also makes me wonder whether additional special taxes could be waiting in the wings for other valued city services the city may not otherwise be able to deliver in the future.