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Politicians visit township officer meeting

Quist calls debt ‘Banana Republic’ stuff

October 31, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

SLEEPY EYE - Several politicians added fireworks to an otherwise routine Brown County Association of Township Officers annual meeting Tuesday at the Eagles Orchid Inn.

First District Congressional candidate Allen Quist, R-St. Peter had some colorful words about the national debt.

"This is Banana Republic stuff. Twenty-five cents out of every dollar goes to debt interest," Quist said. "I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not. Free enterprise needs to be free. We have to put the lid on spending."

Quist said Medicare fraud is costing taxpayers $100 billion a year, and that he's against bailouts and the amount of Farm Bill money going to people on food stamps.

"We have no way of knowing if people getting food stamps actually need them," he added.

Minnesota Dist. 16 candidate Ted Suss, D-Wabasso, who served as Wabasso Public School superintendent for nine years and at Ivanhoe-Hendricks before that, said he wanted to recreate the partnership between local units of government and the Minnesota Legislature.

"I think township government is an incredibly important part of government," he said.

Dist. 16B candidate Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said he and his wife bought a new home in Lake Hanska Township, and he found the neighborhood to be very friendly.

"I'm a big believer in local government," Torkelson said.

Dist. 21 candidate Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said he authored many bills that became laws and that he appreciates township government.

District 16B candidate James Kanne, D-Franklin, said he's a dairy farmer, not a politician, and said a piece of state income and sales tax money should should be distributed locally.

"If you don't want higher property taxes, don't vote for Voter ID," Kanne said. "It'll cost money, and taxes will go up."

Earlier in the evening, the association elected Ronnie Groebner Dist. 2 officer, replacing John Ryan.

Brown County Auditor/Treasurer Marlin Helget said his office has distributed a record 1,000 absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 general election and he expects several hundred more to be used. His office will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday besides regular weekday business hours.

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said due to road maintenance costs climbing at a much faster rate than state aid funding, more roads are being recycled and seal-coated.

Region 9 Representative Fred Juni said grant money for elder care and related aging issues is available for worthy causes and well-written grant requests.

Juni said he continues to get mail about attending legislative committee meetings with state department heads but he plans to serve on the township board only for another year or two. He's looking for another person to attend legislative committee meetings.

Brown County Administrator Chuck Enter said federal programs like EAP (Energy Assistant Program) face cuts if Congress doesn't increase funding.

Those present were asked about issues related to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to restore more than two million acres of western Minnesota prairie land.

On July 31, 2012, the DNR unveiled a 25-year plan to work with a number of partners to acquire and restore the land at an estimated $3.5 billion cost, seeking more than $1.1 billion in legacy funds created by the 2008 Sales Tax Amendment, according to MAT.

A Sept. 19, 2012 letter to Gov. Mark Dayton from Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT) Executive Director Gary L. Pedersen and MAT President Loren Ingebretson raises questions about the issue. MAT believes it should be part of ongoing discussions, before any plan to implement prairie restoration recommendations.

The primary concern of MAT is that township property is most likely to be acquired for wetland mitigation and prairie restoration. As a result, townships stand to lose more of their respective tax bases than other entities.

Several township board members said they were not aware of the issue.

"This is a real dilemma," said Brown County Commissioner Dennis Potter. "Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) money can have a big effect on public school funding. Legacy money can be used to buy land but not as PILT."

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