The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State budget: a closer look

June 28, 2011

Mankato says it can handle short-term shutdown

MANKATO — A short-term state government shutdown will not be a big deal for the city of Mankato, but it might be a bit confusing for its residents.

The not-a-big-deal part comes because no major city services rely directly on the state for their day-to-day operations. The city does rely on state aid payments, transit funding and other grants but the city can cover those in the short term.

Mankato is expecting a state aid payment of about $3 million in late July, but will be able to function without the money until perhaps October, City Manager Pat Hentges said.

The confusing part is that come July 1, shutdown or not, Mankato’s offices will be closed.

That’s due to a pre-planned furlough of non-union employees on Friday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 5.

Police will still patrol the streets and chemists will still be in the wastewater plant; the furloughs affect only office staff. The furloughs, which total six days for most employees, are expected to save $168,936. That saves about one-third of the total salary increase for the city’s work force, due to a 2.5 percent raise agreed to in 2009.

A shutdown would have a few relatively minor ripples for the city.

They include health permits for restaurants and mobile food carts and liquor licenses, both of which require state approval. Likewise, there are state-required certifications, including for utility workers, but the city has endeavored to keep its qualifications up to date through a shutdown.

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