Letter to the Editor
To the Editor:
Our Corrections Department is shared with Todd County. Our share is about 350K. I believe there are six people in Wadena County. Wadena County clients number about 350 with 400 separate cases. Over 30 have active arrest warrants involved.
This arrangement with Todd County does save money. But like most things, the funding committed to by the state has dropped and so our levy has increased.
Wadena County has 15 county parks along the Crow Wing River. These are each different with unique features. There is one employee that works at the parks for part of the year. Camping fees pay a lot of the costs and keep the actual levy to under $40,000. These are worth the visit and attract people from all over.
People are not moving to Wadena County to take advantage of better, easier to get Human Service benefits. The programs are set by the state and are consistent across the state. The state actually sets caseloads per category, per staff. Our caseloads per employee are among the highest in the state.
The estimate that I have been given is that over 35% of our residents now qualify. Driving that figure is our $45,000 household income. In spite of being mandated and required by the state of Minnesota the funding they provide has dropped.
The state of Minnesota and DNR owns about 31,000 acres in Wadena County. The PIL (Payment in Lieu) of taxes averages about $3.91/acre. In comparison, the former Potlatch Land (3300 acres) now owned by an out-of-state environmental group ( a private company) pays over $17/acre.
It is their intent to manage these areas as forested timberland and sell it to an entity such as the DNR, government entity, or other organization that would be required to keep it as is, a working forest with timber production. It cannot be sold to private citizens.
Wadena County cannot afford to have more land owned or controlled by the state of Minnesota. To protect the tax income for Wadena County, townships and schools there is a County Committee that meets to investigate the chances of the county becoming the owner of timber income and public use.
The chances of that are probably not great, considering our financial challenges. But the possibility of generating income to offset possible tax revenue loss is worth investing some time and effort.
District 4 Commissioner