Writers opine on political topics, state program

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.

Dettmer Knows Better

Minnesota Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-District 52A, Forest Lake, wants a referendum on electronic gambling at horse racing facilities in Columbus and Shakopee. There are a few problems with such a request.

First, Minnesota is not a referendum state. Mr. Dettmer knows Minnesota is not a referendum state as I have witnessed him being told as much several different times.

Next, numerous polls have been taken that show better than 70 percent of Minnesota voters want to allow electronic gambling at horse racing facilities in Minnesota (Racino). Those same polls show a strong “referendum” in and by themselves.

There is no need for the state to spend money on a vote nor for the legislature to pass a special law to allow for a referendum vote on this issue.

Lastly, Mr. Dettmer was elected to represent the voters in Minnesota. If 70 percent plus want “Racino” it is time for him to truly represent the majority and do whatever he can to fulfill the will of the people.

A referendum vote is nothing more than an obstruction at this point in time.

Rep. Dettmer, stop obstructing and start representing!

John Mastel

She’s Not Local!

By what journalistic formula does ECM conclude that Michelle Bachmann is a “local politician”?

In community newspapers you’re considered “local” if you live in one of the communities news of whose activities you carry week after week. To the Forest Lake Times you’re “local” if you live in Forest Lake, Scandia, Wyoming, Hugo, Linwood, Columbus, Lino Lakes.

Bachmann doesn’t live in any of these places.  She serves as our Sixth District congresswoman but that doesn’t make her “local” any more than Senators Amy Klobuchar or Al Franken are local.

Considering her “local” was used as justification for playing news of her national campaign for the presidency on the front page of the Times.

And when reading the Times annual review of the year’s local news last week, we found her being adopted once again with this incredible reference — “It’s not every year a local politician launches a presidential campaign” — and no less than 150 words on the national political campaign of a Stillwater resident oddly tucked into the local news review.

She’s a  politician, all right, but she’s not local. When she appears at a local gathering, it’s indeed a story for the Times. Otherwise, there’s no shortage of other media covering her campaign.

Earl M. Lellman
Forest Lake

Heartfelt Thanks

I would like to extend a thank you to the Forest Lake School Board, Superintendent Linda Madsen, school staff and community members for the recognition and celebration of my many years serving on the school board.

This community should be very proud of the Forest Lake Area Schools.

But most of all I would like to express my sincere thanks to my wife, Kathy whose love, care, support and sacrifice has enriched my endeavors and allowed me to serve kids and the community. She has been and continues to be my rock and without her support I would not have been able to accomplish my goals and dreams.

Joe Grafft

Fixing Needed

I’ve heard from homeowners about changes to the Market Value Homestead Credit. Some of the information is grossly misleading.

Starting in 2012, the MVHC will change to a Market Value Homestead Exclusion (MVHE). To understand this, we have to understand the old credit and why it needed fixing.

Local governments applied the credit to your property taxes with the expectation the state would cut them a check for the difference between your property tax rate and what you actually paid, hence the term credit. So while it seemed like you were getting a tax break, what was actually happening is your state tax dollars were supposed to pay part of your property taxes.

But only once in 10 years did it actually work that way. The rest of the time, the state failed to pay for any or all of the credit, forcing local governments to guess what their compensation would be. The credit was too expensive for the state and too unreliable for local governments. We needed a way to remove the state as a middleman yet provide property tax relief and give more certainty to local governments. The MVHE does both.

It applies property tax relief using the same formula as the old credit. Because it is applied at the beginning, local governments have certainty they will receive the full levy amount levy. And it presents no state cost.

Blaming this change for an increase in property taxes is simply false. While the state does provide tax relief through the MVHE and the property tax refund program, the state does not set local tax rates. Those are set by cities and counties. Whether the rates go up or down depends on how much they spend, changes in housing growth or the city’s tax base.

Some governments are reducing spending and lowering property taxes. Anoka County reduced theirs by 5 percent, as did Lino Lakes and Columbus.

There’s another misleading statistic about the old credit: It is not a $261 million cut. The last two years it was funded at $89 million. There was never a $261 million allocation.

It seems awfully difficult to justify tax increases based on “losing” money that was never spent. The MVHE will help taxpayers know exactly who sets property tax rates and remove the state while preserving tax relief.

Rep. Bob Dettmer
Forest Lake