10 cities about to ask themselves ‘What next?’

If you think it’s time for Minnesota residents to have a serious conversation about what their cities can afford to do, tune into these 10 places:

Austin

Bemidji

Duluth

Eden Prairie

Eveleth

Hastings

Moorhead

Northfield

St. James

St. Paul

Throughout spring and summer, the League of Minnesota Cities is going to host four meetings in each city, drilling into the services cities deliver, how well they provide them and how to pay for them. It’s a good list, big, middle and small; urban, suburban and rural, North Woods and southern farm country.

It’s a great opportunity for residents to come to grips with the economic and political realities that have been hitting their local governments. Ground Level has chronicled on our Cities in Crisis topic page how all over the state, cities are turning off streetlights, cutting library hours, looking for money-saving collaborations and trying to be more innovative.

And of course this is happening with the backdrop of uncertainty over the state aid that most cities receive.

Some places seem to be dealing with the threats more piecemeal than others, but it’s boiling down to a conversation about what is it that a city’s residents want to do for themselves over the long haul. As I’ve said before, I think of this as the gravel road conversation. Is pavement too expensive for us?

Starting in May, the League is going to offer people the chance to dig deep into this. It sounds like lots of people are ready for it — 39 cities applied for the chance to have the League come to them. Here’s the League’s announcement. Stay tuned for dates.

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