ST. CLOUD -- If you want to have input on St. Cloud's city budget for next year now is your chance to weigh in.

Mayor Dave Kleis says because of the COVID-19 pandemic the city is facing at least a $10 million shortfall for the remainder of this year, and it's likely to not get any better next year.

Of all the budgets that I've had a chance to present to the council over the last 15 years, this is the most challenging one to balance.  Not only the shortfall in the current year but also looking at making sure that we have the ability to focus on those core services going into 2021.

Kleis says the uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it difficult to predict what the city's revenues will look like next year.

He says the city has been under a hiring freeze since March and they are down 30 full-time employees and 190 part-time employees.

St. Cloud's general fund budget for this year is $79 million with about 36 percent of that coming from property taxes, 17 percent from Local Government Aid, and 11 percent from other taxes like sales taxes, the food and beverage tax, and the lodging tax.

Kleis says with the state also facing a big deficit it's hard to tell if the city will get that money.

That's a real big if, for us, we don't know what the state will do even for the budget shortfall we have now, or what they anticipate doing going into next year.

The biggest portion of the budget, 42 percent, is spent on public safety.

The city did get $5.8 million from the federal government from the CARES Act, but they can't use that money for revenue shortfalls only for COVID-19 spending.

You can give your thoughts on the city budget by calling the budget input hotline at (320) 650-3152, sending an email at budget@ci.stcloud.mn.us or attending an interactive Public Budget meeting on Monday at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall. Mayor

Kleis will present his preliminary budget for 2021 to the city council on August 3rd.

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