In this economy everyone is looking to save a dollar or two (or make an extra dollar or two), if possible. So, how do people do it? They ask others for suggestions. There are hundreds of books, websites, and blogs available with tips on how to save money, get out of debt, or make extra cash.

Well, Minnesota cities are doing the same thing. The State of Minnesota is grappling with a $6 billion dollar shortfall in the next biennium and has already cut local government aid to cities and counties repeatedly over the last few years. Because of this, cities are having to cut back on services, hours, and spending, just to name a few things. So, how should cities deal with budget cutbacks while still maintaining services? The League of Minnesota Cities is doing what the average person would do, it is asking others for suggestions. In June, the League posted a unique video set to slam poetry on its blog and youtube and directly asked citizens for creative ways to keep city costs in line. The Star Tribune reported last week, 3,100 citizens have responded to the League with suggestions. The League is compiling the comments left on the www.outsidetheox.org website, and sharing the information with community leaders.

Everyone from businesses, to local government, to citizens is struggling in this economy. It is nice to see people asking for help and giving suggestions on how to weather this storm. If you are a public employer in Minnesota don’t be afraid to ask your citizens what they really need from you, it could help you make some of those tough budget decisions.

** The League is a membership organization dedicated to promoting excellence in local government. It serves its more than 800 member Minnesota cities through advocacy, education and training, policy development, risk management, and other services.