Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig has the right idea when it comes to letting the state Legislature know the city of Marshall isn't exactly thrilled about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed cuts in Local Government Aid, which would take away more than $590,000 from the city - on top of the $537,000 already cut in 2009.
He wants to send a message to St. Paul.
But sending a message isn't enough.
The city of Marshall needs to take it a step further, be more aggressive, let that message serve as an appetizer for the main course: some possible solutions. Or, at the very least, a suggestion or two.
Marshall councilman Charlie Sanow said at Tuesday's council meeting that it's not enough to just let the Legislature know the city of Marshall is getting set up for another big financial downfall. He said he would prefer the city also send along some solutions that would help avoid further LGA cuts to Marshall.
There are many rural cities in Minnesota that could go to the Capitol to, as Sanow said Tuesday, "complain" about their financial woes. But why not take it a step further? If you're going to war, it's best to strap a few grenades to your belt to go along with your gun.
The more ammunition the city of Marshall has, the closer our state lawmakers might listen.
State legislators need to be reminded that Marshall is taking another one on its collective chin, yes, but they more than likely won't do much about it unless the city makes an attempt to offer a solution or two. Make your point, then drive it home. Even then, it's a long shot Marshall would be spared.
If a kid wants a new bike, simply asking his parents to buy him one probably won't cut it. If the kid tells his parents the chain keeps falling off and the tires are wobbly, he might just get that new set of wheels.
In that spirit, the city of Marshall will take its stance to the public stage Monday when Mayor Bob Byrnes and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak hold a news conference addressing the issue, and calling on citizens and lawmakers to oppose the proposed cuts. The conference is being put on by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, which hopes to achieve two goals from its junket, which also includes a Monday stop in Worthington: 1) for its member communities - that include mostly smaller cities like Marshall, but also Minneapolis and St. Paul - to draw attention to the importance of LGA; and 2) to make proposals that could help the state budget so the impact of the budget deficit doesn't fall disproportionately on smaller cities. One possible proposal, Byrnes said, is revenue enhancement that could perhaps be achieved by an expansion of sales tax on select personal services.
We'll have to wait and see how closely the Capitol is listening.