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City wouldn’t be spared in shutdown effects

June 29, 2011
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - The list of local and municipal services that would be affected by a potential state shutdown became worryingly long Tuesday night, during a discussion at the Marshall City Council's regular meeting. Everything from Local Government Aid payments to state safety inspections could be put on hold, city officials and community members said.

The discussion kicked off with a short presentation by Cathleen Amick and John Fitzgerald of Western Community Action. Local transit services would be hard hit by a shutdown, Amick said, because much of the program's funding comes from the state.

In case of a shutdown, she said, "There is no guarantee that we would be reimbursed through the state for expenses." If local transit buses were to keep running, it might require financial help from the city of Marshall. However, Amick said it's not yet known if the city's help will be needed, or how much the request would be.

Regular customers for local transit services include commuters, senior citizens and people with disabilities, Amick said.

"I know there are a lot of people that depend on those rides," said city council member Charlie Sanow. He said he wouldn't want to tell the public that the city couldn't help. Council members suggested that Amick calculate how much it would take to keep a reduced number of transit buses running.

The issue of state reimbursements tied in to other possible effects of the shutdown as well, said Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig. Without state funds, Marshall could temporarily lose its Drug Task Force officer, or needs to find alternative ways to make up for the funding loss. The Chemical Assessment Team would also be affected by a shutdown, and Local Government Aid payments for July would likely not be made - Martig said the Minnesota Department of Revenue had made it clear it would not distribute the aid payments during a shutdown without a court order.

"We're continuing to track that very closely," Martig said.

Perhaps some of the most widespread effects of a shutdown would come through a halt to state permitting processes and inspections, said Marshall City Engineer Glenn Olson. Without functioning state agencies, obtaining everything from electrical inspections to right-of-way permits would be impossible. Both public and private construction projects could come to a standstill.

"The impact to our community is going to be significant and lengthy," Olson said. However, Martig added that the city does not intend to shut down its projects in the meantime. He said some preparations are being made, like making sure that various licenses will not expire during a shutdown, and working to accelerate the process of electrical inspections on city projects currently in progress.



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