Minnesota Government Shutdown Wouldn’t Affect Woodbury Much
Washington County and the school district, however, are more concerned with the potential impacts.
In the event lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton can’t reach a budget agreement before July 1 and a government shutdown ensues, Woodbury’s day-to-day operations wouldn’t be affected much.
“Practically, it’s not going to have a huge impact on what we do,” City Administrator Clint Gridley said Tuesday.
Legislative leaders and the governor have been at an impasse over how to close the state’s budget deficit. If an agreement isn’t struck by June 30, the state’s spending authority would be limited and the courts would likely decide which jobs and services are deemed essential.
Woodbury receives no local-government aid from the state, Gridley said, noting $1 million that was cut in 2002-03. The city does get some transportation funds from the state, but he said those dollars would likely remain in place.
“Our day-to-day operations will be relatively unaffected,” Gridley said.
Still, communication with state officials on matters such as water quality and transportation could be impacted, Gridley said. And once the Legislature settles on a budget and state government comes back online, there will probably be a backlog of matters for state agencies to address. In the meantime, those questions “will simply have to wait,” he said.
In past years, the city has engaged in projects—such as work on Interstate 494—that would require more interaction between the city and state, Gridley said. Woodbury doesn’t have any similar projects happening this year, he said.
“We can pretty much operate independently (of the state),” Gridley said.
Things in Washington County would be a little bleaker if the state government shuts down. Washington County Administrator Jim Schug said there are a number of issues that could arise if a deal isn’t struck by June 30.
The county gets much of its funding for human services—care for the elderly and mentally ill, for example—from the state. There is a question of whether Washington County would receive reimbursement for providing those services in the event of a shutdown, Schug said.
Also, the major construction project along Interstate 35 in Forest Lake could be delayed, he said, and community corrections funds for things like monitoring people on probation might be impacted. Schug said county license centers would likely be unaffected.
A government shutdown could also impact Washington County’s cash flow, Schug said. In July, the county is due a $5.6 million payment for county program aid and the market value homestead credit, Schug said. (The funds come twice a year.)
In South Washington County Schools, officials are keeping an eye on the possibility of a government shutdown.
“We do not anticipate any immediate shutdown of any of our services, but we are looking into our cash-flow model, and looking at some short-term lines of credit if this extends into August,” Superintendent Mark Porter said at a school board meeting last week. “As this much-discussed possibility becomes nearer to reality, it will have an impact. It will have an impact on us. We have some resources available to us that others don’t, but still, we will need to make some provisions for what it might mean if it extends for any lengthy period of time. I guess I would join anyone else in hoping for and encouraging a solution and resolution to be found in this budget process.”
If a government shutdown does indeed happen and lasts for an extended period of time, the school board might have to do some creative budgeting if no revenue is being allocated to the district by the state, District 833 Finance Director Aaron Bushberger said.
During the meeting, he told board members that state money makes up about 79 percent of the district’s budget, with 15 percent coming from the property tax levy and the rest filled by other means.
“From a cash-flow perspective, we do anticipate that we’ll be OK through the end of July,” Bushberger said last week. “However, the state does pay us twice a month—on the 15th and at the end of the month—and when we’ve reached that Aug. 15 date, that’s when there’s going to be a crunch for us. Right now we’re doing some digging—we’re doing some research."
Bushberger added that even if a shutdown does last until mid-August, summer school programs would not be halted because the district does have some options to fund the programs in the short term, such as taking money from district investments, which could be done with a monetary penalty.