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Hopkins Could Get LGA Again—But The City’s Not Counting On It

The governor’s budget would give Hopkins $50,000, which would go toward the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Hopkins is scheduled to once again receive $50,000 in Local Government Aid under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal—but city officials aren’t penciling it into their budget quite yet.

Hopkins received $50,000 in aid each year between 2002 and 2007 that went to the Hopkins Center for the Arts. That amount was cut in half in 2008 and then disappeared altogether after that.

Dayton's plan would set aside $80 million for LGA, which would mean Hopkins would start receiving an annual $50,000 allotment again, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. That money would then resume flowing to the arts center, which has struggled to become self-sustaining, said Hopkins Finance Director Christine Harkess.

The proposal is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 27 before the House Taxes Committee.

Local Government Aid is intended to help cities with greater needs than they can reasonably expect to fund through property taxes. In most cases, the money goes into a city's general fund, to be spent however city officials deem necessary. Hopkins is unique in that, under an agreement with lawmakers implemented in lieu of a local sales tax, its money from Local Government Aid is directed specifically to the arts center.

Yet Hopkins has been burned before.

The city received notice in 2010 that it would start receiving $50,000 again in 2011—and the money never came through. By the spring of 2011, the state was embroiled in a budget dispute that eventually led to a state government shutdown that summer.

Hopkins learned its lesson and won’t be depending on the funding stream again.

“We’re not budgeting for it, absolutely not,” Harkess said. “We hope that we get it, but we’re not counting on it.”

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