Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We are in the middle of a housing crisis. Home values have plummeted. It should be expected that some people in North Mankato were surprised to have their home values increase. According to the Mankato Free Press, the reason is because of a new software program being used by the county assessor's office. The new analysis of values takes into account higher value materials that might be used to construct homes. This unusual situation was mentioned briefly by North Mankato Mayor Dehen on KTOE radio the other day. He made the remark that this situation is not the result of any city action, but is entirely "on the county".

Yes it is on the county; but no--it really is not on the county. Property owners are upset and the human nature in all of us looks for a place to put the blame. How does this situation come to be?

County staff have to play with the cards they are dealt. The big dealer in this case is the Minnesota House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and state revenue officials. They are in charge.

The state decides the rules on how property shall be assessed for taxation purposes. They decide what properties should get tax breaks i.e. homes, churches etc. They also decide what properties do not get tax breaks. The rules mandate that local officials do their best (they must swear under oath) to equalize values of all properties in the county. Values are determined by sales histories.

Is it the county's or state's fault that sales of various properties increase of decrease? If not them---then who? Who buys properties and why? There are a myriad number of reasons for why properties are bought and even more reasons why purchase prices are what they are. Some reasons could be a good economy, a poor economy, low interest rates, high interest rates, lending institution policies, personal lifestyles choices, family transitions, demographics of citizenry, government incentives, government dis-incentives, and on and on and on.

So, who is to blame for increased or decreased property values? The answer is that we all are. Have we purchased property and paid more or less than the "true value"? Most of us are guilty because we are humans and as humans we allow our emotions to influence our decisions. Also, collectively, we have allowed our property tax system to be what it is and we have not instilled in our elected officials that we want it changed and HOW it should be changed for the betterment of all. end

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Our local legislators could be heard saying these words before our current legislative session.
Words have not moved into action as some of our local legislators have concentrated on stadium proposals, voter I.D., gun legislation, and racinos.

However before the session is over I am absolutely positive that there will be at least one job for people who are good a wordsmithing, or using the thesaurus. I think the leadership employ someone who can come up with alternate terminology - terminology that actually means raising revenue, but does not spell t - a - x.

We all remember that it was a fee instead of a tax. There must be many words like levy, charge, assessment, toll. You see what I mean. There are probably people who are right now, coming up with new terminology to get around the "no new taxes mantra".

I guess that is a new job for someone. end

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Should Live Within Our Means

It is very good advice to try to "live within our means". This has been suggested, advised, and touted as the way we should run our state. This advice comes mainly from the newly elected Republican majority in the Minnesota House and Senate. It would appear that they are good at giving advice - led by their party chairman Tony Sutton. When it comes to put up or shut up, they fail miserably. The county of Nicollet has been waiting since December for payment associated with the governor recount. They have sent five invoices and received no response. Tony, put your money where your mouth is. Pay the taxpayers of Nicollet County (who are very good at living within their means) what is due. end

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Again, my ad nosium comment - passing the amendment to increase our sales tax and dedicate it to clean water, parks, and culture was the dumbest thing we ever did. Its 'new money' and something weird happens to the people we elect when they spend time in St. Paul. They lose many of the qualities we admired in them when we voted for them. We should have known that this 'dedicated money' would be pilfered, stolen, misdirected. They did it with the tobacco endowment, they are doing it with the legacy dollars too. The amendment to our constitution reads the money should be used to "restore, protect and enhance". And when there is new money, the legislators become experts in word definition. The money is not meant to be used as a 'backfill' for department appropriations- it is. The money is not meant for specific groups of people or capital improvements - it is. ($600,000 for two veterans' rest camps.) Again, the money is not meant for capital improvements. (How does $972,000 to rehabilitate the Dodd Ford Bridge not fall under capital improvements?) Like I said, some of our local people i.e. Senator Rosen, Rep. Cornish, and even Rep. Paul Torkelson seem to take on different qualities once they get to St. Paul. Note: does the fact that these three legislators are in what some might call "safe districts" mean they can be different people once they get to St. Paul? end