Letter to the Editor (Verndale Sun)
To the Editor:
Close to 70 percent of the total of Wadena County’s real estate and personal property tax base is in 15 rural townships. And yet the average household income in these areas is one of the lowest statewide.
According to recent information from Social Services, we are the fourth most impoverished county in the state. These factors affect social service and law enforcement costs. Lots of bad news that comes along from having a lack of opportunities, jobs and development (tax base).
Over the last 35 years, we have experienced the decline of the dairy industry which was the driver of economic well-being in many of our rural areas and small towns. At the same time zoning laws were put in place to protect farm and forest lands. I think they worked.
The only way to change this course is to increase opportunities and tax base. Keep in mind that Hubbard and Otter Tail County have no countywide zoning laws, except those that apply to septics, lakes, and rivers. They seem to be doing okay.
I will ask for a series of commissioner meetings around the county to solicit resident feedback on the subject of making zoning laws more friendly to business development countywide.
Business classifications are the fastest way to increase the tax base because they have higher tax rates.
The state is getting ready to spend billions of excess tax revenue and because we have been made reliant on state money, we need and will get some in different areas. But it seems to me that the more they send us the poorer we get.
But reviewing zoning laws is something we can do on our own to change the reality of where we are.
We should be able to expand our tax base and be development friendly while at the same time being respectful of farmland and trees.
District 4 Commissioner