Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick -- how does LGA work and why does it matter?

There are probably less than a half-dozen people who can explain the intricacies of Minnesota's Local Government Aid (LGA) program without a cheat sheet. Two of them work for the League of Minnesota Cities -- and I'm not one of them.

Instead, my team and I are tasked with helping the public gain a general understanding what LGA is and why it matters. We attempt to do so in a variety of ways, from Op Eds, blog posts, and talking points, to handouts at our State Fair booth.

This past year, we went into new territory as part of our "Cities, Services & Funding: Broader Thinking, Better Solutions" effort. For the phase of the effort focused on awareness building, we produced two mini-videos. The 1.5-minute video, gives the overall context of the tough choices cities are facing. The 3-minute video includes quick references to revenue sharing, how funding for the program has been decreasing dramatically, and the impact on city services and quality of life. (When we talk about "cities in the red", we're referring to this projection based on research commissioned from HHH, which we released after the videos had been circulating for a several weeks.)

Just in the past few days, as part of the "Community Conversations" phase of the Cities, Services & Funding effort, we've drafted graphic that is meant to be a quick reference showing the main funding resources cities receive -- including revenue sharing from the State -- and the services those resources support. We expect to develop several versions, showing differences in the size of each "reservoir" based on the mix of revenues different types of cities rely on. If you have any suggestions for improving this graphic, please let me know (either through a comment on this post or you can catch me in class). I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

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