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Letter to the Editor (Verndale Sun)

To the Editor:

County Property Tax Disparity

The Wadena County Board is compiling a short list of Legislative lobbying priorities related to the county. This is one of them that has been approved.

Counties were formed and operate under the “Dillion” rule which means they were formed by the Legislature of the state of Minnesota.

This is in contrast to the cities of Minnesota which were formed by the citizens that live there under the “Home Rule Charter” laws.

The main difference is that the cities can do anything they want as long as there is not a statute stating they cannot. Counties on the other hand cannot do anything unless there is a statute stating they can do something and in addition they have to do everything the state says they must do either through a state statute or an administrative rule.

The Minnesota Legislature has been passing laws with unfunded mandates for years. In addition Minnesota Governor’s administrations have been formulating administrative rules and imposing them on counties for years also. This has resulted in billions of dollars of unfunded mandates that the counties have had to backfill through the County Property Tax Levy.

The counties with the highest land and property values have had the least burden put on their taxpayers. The counties with the lowest land and property values have had the highest tax burden put on their taxpayers.

The state average county tax rate is .47665, while the median county tax rate is .45430. This is “untenable”. Where is the “One Minnesota”?

If a person or married couple who work in the state of Minnesota has a net taxable income of $100,000, he, she or they have the same tax burden no matter which county they live in. It matters not if they live in Hennepin, Rock, Dakota, Kanabec or Wadena. They all pay the same income tax.

Not true of the property tax. If you are lucky enough to live in a county with a high taxable value you have a much lower property tax burden.

There is a theory that county lines in the state of Minnesota were drawn up so no one would have more than a days ride by horse and buggy to their county seat town. There is no way of knowing whether this is true or not.

However, one thing that is certain is that they were not drawn up so the tax burden for the billions of dollars in unfunded state mandates were fairly distributed among all property taxpayers.

The county of Wadena in 1964 had ten people employed in its “Welfare” office. This is now called the Human Services office and has 58 employees. Since 1964, Wadena County has grown by only 1400 people. The growth of this department has been dictated by statutes and administrative rules of the central state government, not the county commissioners.

The county commissioners are being forced to unfairly tax their constituents at exorbitant rates just to fill the unfunded mandates of the central state government.

It is time to equalize the property tax in the state of Minnesota.

Murlyn Kreklau

District 4 Commissioner


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