Kreklau: A little 'did you know' lesson
Murlyn Kreklau is a Wadena County Commissioner from District 4
Did you know…That our Corrections Department is shared with Todd County? Our share is about $350K. I believe there are six people in Wadena County. Wadena County’s clients number about 350, with 400 separate cases. Over 30 have active arrest warrants involved.
This arrangement with Todd County does save us money, but like most things, the funding committed by the State has dropped, and so our levy has increased.
…That Wadena County has 10 county parks, plus landings and two state campgrounds along the Crow Wing River? These are each different, with unique features. There is one employee that works the parks for part of the year. Camping fees pay for a lot of the costs, which helps keep the actual levy for this to under $40,000. These are worth the visit, and attract people from all over.
…That people are NOT moving to Wadena County to take advantage of better, easier-to-get Human Service benefits? The programs are set by the State and are consistent across the state. The State actually sets caseloads per category, per staff. Our caseloads per employee are among the highest in the state. The estimate that I have been given is that over 35% of our residents now qualify. Driving that figure is our $45,000 household income. In spite of being mandated and required by the State of Minnesota, the funding they provide has dropped.
…That the State of Minnesota and DNR own about 31,000 acres in Wadena County? Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) on that land average about $3.91/acre. In comparison, there is former Potlatch Land (3,300 acres) now owned by an out-of-state environmental group (a private company) that pays over $17/acre. It is their intent to manage these areas as forested timberland and sell it to an entity such as the DNR, another government entity, or some other organization that would be required to keep it as is – a working forest w/timber production. It cannot be sold to private citizens.
Wadena County cannot afford to have more land owned or controlled by the State of Minnesota. To protect the tax base for the county, townships and schools, there is a county committee that is meeting to investigate the possibility of the county becoming the owner for timber income and public use. The chances of that are probably not great, considering our financial challenges. But the possibility of generating income to offset possible tax revenue loss is worth investing some time and effort.