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We all need to pay our fair share for services

Fri, Jun 16th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

I am writing in response to Rushford Village Clerk, Judy Grahams letter in the Tri-County Record last week and to articles in the Fillmore County Journal regarding the tri-city (City and Village of Rushford and Peterson) meetings. Judy gives a lot of figures in her letter showing how much more money the City of Rushford receives from the State compared to the Village of Rushford. The City of Rushford receives that money from the State to help pay for services it provides to the residents of the City; it does not receive that money to help pay for services to the Village. It also does not receive money for services it does not provide. The City receives more because it provides more services to its citizens than the Village does. Does this money we receive from the State begin to pay for the City budgetnot hardly. The truth is that the citizens of the City of Rushford pay for many services that are enjoyed by the total surrounding area. I would also like to give a figure of my own. At the time the new school was being debated a few years ago, I compared the taxes for our house in the City to a friends in the Village. The market values were similar (hers actually about $3000 more). Yet our taxes were approximately $700 more than her house in the Village. Since I assume we pay the same rate for the county and the school, the difference is the rate of the City taxes versus the Village taxes.I have heard various arguments why the Village residents should not have to pay morethat Village residents support the City businesses, that farmers are too poor to pay more in taxes, etc. As a family, just to name a few, in the City we have patronized McGeorges, the hardware store, Dahls Auto, Dennis Overland Insurance, Dr. Nelson Dental, Darr Auctions all businesses whose owners live in the Village. We have also had electrical work by Kopperuds, oil changes at Curts Place, and have bought building materials at Norstads Lumberbusinesses in the Village. So I believe the City and Village support each other. Also in the City, we have many residents on fixed incomes or young families who struggle to pay their bills just like the farmers do.Mr. Sexaueryou want to have your new development in the Village hook up to the City sewer and water at the same rate a person from the City would pay. How is that fair to the taxpayers of the City who have already spent many tax dollars to build our water and sewer system? You want to make a deal with the city by allowing us to annex 25 acres of your land. Just how soon do you anticipate you will be building on those acres so that the houses can be added to the tax rolls of the city? Moreover, why would anyone want to build on one of the lots in the City knowing that their taxes every year will be $800-$900 more than one just a few yards away. If it is such a good deal, why wont you allow the rest of your lots to be annexed to the City? What happens when another developer wants to build to the west of the City or more in South or North Rushford? Do we have to allow that too? How is that going to burden our sewer system? The City is looking at over $1.5 million in upgrades/repairs to the sewer system in the next few years. How much more is it going to cost every time another developer wants to add on to it? Our first responsibility is to developers who have land for development in the City and the taxpayers of the City.As a taxpayer, I no longer have children in school, do not have anyone involved in recreational programs, and I buy my own books to read but, as a community, I know these services, along with police, fire/ambulance, etc., are very important to a community. I also dont want to deny any kids the opportunity to swim, play ball, use the library just because they live outside the city and we have to begin charging large user fees to make it fair. I dont mind paying my share of taxes for these services, but I dont believe I should have to pay for other peoples share. Possible solutions? Perhaps it is time to treat some of the services (i.e. police, recreational, library, etc.) that are used by all in the surrounding areas like we treat the school and fire/ambulance servicestax these services at a mill rate and having representatives from all entities involved in the decision-making process. Perhaps an even bolder idea would be to undo the mistake our founding fathers did long ago when they created the Village that surrounds a land-locked City and become one entity. Perhaps the rural areas (farmers) of the Village would be better served by becoming part of a township. There are many possible solutions in handling individual services, and they can be debated. In the very least, the City should require anyone hooking up to City sewer and water be annexed to the City.

Beverly Colbenson lives in Rushford.

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