OPINION: Keeping Houston County citizens informed and involved
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 9:52 AM
On Sept. 30 the Houston County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing to address the issue of whether or not the county planning and zoning commission members should serve under term limits. The current members of the commission serve three-year terms with no limit on the number of terms. The current members of the planning and zoning commission have served over 100 years combined.
The board room was filled to capacity for the hearing. The board clearly heard that there was a need for term limits. For those that came forward to speak on the issue four out of every five spoke in favor of term limits. This public hearing was truly a tribute to the process and procedure of county government. The county board followed up by enacting term limits at the Oct. 29th board meeting. Planning and zoning commission members can now serve up to a maximum of three consecutive three-year terms for a total of nine years. Current members who have been on the commission for more than nine years will be replaced after they have completed the current three-year term they are serving. Each district of the county has a planning and zoning commission member. Bruce Lee of district #2 will have completed his term at the end of this year. Anyone from district #2 who may be interested in serving on the planning and zoning commission should contact the county auditor to apply.
An issue that is on the table of the board of commissioners and has been for some time is the need for an improved county highway shop for the maintenance and shelter of highway department equipment. Please know that in solving this issue in no way, shape or form am I in favor of using any new tax dollars to fund this project. We have a justice center to pay for.
In regard to the county budget we need to hold the line with a zero percent tax increase for the upcoming year. The increase in taxes county taxpayers have shouldered in the recent past has been way out of line. The board must keep in mind that we have a decreasing population in the county and that the population over 65 is increasing. The services the county provides and the tax rate must reflect this dynamic.
All five members of the county board recently attended a regional public meeting sponsored by the State of Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The commissioners that make up the EQB as appointed by the Governor were looking for public input in regard to frac sand mining in Southeast Minnesota. The two-hour meeting entertained any and every one that wanted to speak out about frac sand mining and the impact it would have on Southeast Minnesota. Many spoke and of all who spoke not one were in favor of frac sand mining with many reasons stated. The message that frac sand mining should be banned "period" was echoed many times over. I do have to say that many of the comments made at this meeting reflected my thoughts and were in line with the frac sand mining data I have gathered.
An interesting note is that the November voting booths in several communities in Ohio and Colorado will provide the citizens with the opportunity to ban or limit the practice of hydraulic fracking for natural gas.
I will stay in touch keeping you informed and involved.