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Letter to the Editor (Sun)

To the Editor:

Negotiations continue to be a time-consuming subject. I am not making any specific comments relating to them until they are completed. I want to make clear that Wadena County employees are a dedicated group of people but wages and benefits are the main drivers of the county levy.

Counties get all their authority from the state of Minnesota. We are required to have all the same departments and services that every county around us has but have to do it on a tax capacity and population that is a fraction of them.

That being said, in 2007, Wadena County had 119 employees, 2018 had 146, 2019 was 152, and 2020 was 165. But 2021 showed 161 and at this point 2022 is at 159. An effort is being made to hold the line on the number or reduce it by looking to share employees internally or even share with other counties.

I am sure that much of the increase over the years can be attributed to more state mandates but we have to do our part by being efficient and realizing we may need to cut some services or combine some departments. Several chances to do that were missed in the last couple of years.

Taxes payable in 2022 were only slightly changed because the levy increased by 1 1/2%. The 2023 budget and corresponding levy will be a challenge to hold to that amount.

The budget committee of which I am part starts that process in the next few weeks.

Labor contracts, rampant inflation, and the huge artificial increases in land valuation are things that are sure to affect 2023 taxes. And even if the levy can be held to a low increase, my fear is that rural taxpayers will get a larger share of that levy because the largest increase in valuations occurred inland and more specifically marginal classifications of land. Everything went up but some types exceeded a 50% increase.

On a different note, there is a lot of pressure from many sources to change election laws which currently are a state responsibility. I think Minnesota elections are well run and I know our local elections are conducted with integrity. But the pressure is there. I prefer to vote in person. But to protect that right we need to participate.

Our current elections require election judges from both parties. Local people who run our elections struggle to find election judges. Protect your right to vote in person. Volunteer to be an election judge.

You can see the agendas of board meetings on the county web page and also read the minutes of the previous board meeting.

As per earlier suggestions, on the evening of June 14, the regular Wadena County board meeting may be held in Menahga. This is an effort to make the county government more responsive to the entire county. That time, date, and location are still being firmed up at this time.

I appreciate your questions and comments. I do best with emails:

Murlyn Kreklau

District 4 Commissioner

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