Auditor: Minnesota cities cut spending and held property tax share flat

If you track the taxing and spending pressures on local governments in Minnesota, as we’ve done here, then the annual state auditor’s report on city finances is more interesting than it sounds.

Auditor Rebecca Otto’s office put out its annual take Thursday, toting up the numbers from 2011, which, as you may recall was a year frought with angst over state aid and tough economic times.

The bottom line? Minnesota’s cities spent 4 percent less in 2011 than they did in 2010. And when you look long term and adjust for inflation, city spending dropped 20 percent over 10 years. What’s interesting about this chart is that, after rising or holding steady for years, actual spending even before adjusting for inflation now has dropped in the most recent year.

auditor city 2011 expenditures.jpg

Current expenditures declined, as you might expect, but spending on debt service and capital outlays dropped by double digits over 10 years. The big ticket item for cities is still public safety and mayors and council members typically go after that last. But even that number has started to decline after adjusting for inflation.

And where’s the money coming from? The share coming from property taxes has been rising in recent years but actually stayed flat at 38 percent in 2011. That surprised me, given the tightening of state aid available, but it apparently shows local officials were keeping a lid on local taxes as well.

You can find the whole auditor’s report here.

  • Jack Evanhoe

    What city Mayors and city Managers are doing is cutting back on the service so they can keep the same level of employees and health and pension benefits.

    Anotherwards – Government for the Government Employees not for the Good of the People, the Tax Payers be damned.

    The Middle Class is shrinking partly because of this, self-centered action of City Employees County and State Employees, Tax Payers deserve better amd legally have recourse to sue these City Managers and Mayors for not doing their fiduciary duty.

    When will the Citizens of this Country get fed up with this, and vote to cut Government employment by 15% and benefits by 20% all Citizens of America have suffered this reality 10 to 15 years ago, seen their standard of living reduced, its time Governments realised they have killed the Goose that laid the Golden Egg.

    As the U.S. shrinks in economic vitality think of the self-centered Government Employees and their Care Takers – City Managers and City Mayors