Letters to the editor: County Board budget; Recycling of plastics
County Board budget
TO THE EDITOR
As a candidate for St. Croix County Supervisor last spring, I promised to focus on controlling county budget increases, taxes and borrowing. I now serve as a member of the County Board representing the towns of Somerset and St. Joseph and I am glad to report that we made a little progress on all three fronts last week.
The county wisely keeps a reserve of unassigned funds—money it does not need to fund the budget or other specific services—so it is available if an unexpected need arises. Over the course of 2018, those unassigned funds accumulated to millions of dollars, more than County's Reserve Fund Policy requires.
I figured that if the county has money that's not needed, there are two good things to do with it: lower taxes and pay down debt.
Last week, the County Board met to approve the final budget for 2019. Under the proposed budget, the property tax levy would have gone up 4.2 percent, already an improvement over the 7.1 percent increase in 2018.
I made a motion to take $2.5 million of the unassigned funds to pay down a short-term loan that the county took out last year to pay for capital projects—part of its 4-year, $65 million borrowing spree. I am glad to report that my budget amendment passed by a vote of 11 to 6.
This amendment to the 2019 budget will lower the county property tax levy by $471,727, reducing the total tax levy increase from the proposed 4.2 percent to just 2.8 percent. It will also reduce the tax levies by $1,059,997 in both the 2021 and 2022 budgets, as the loan payments for those years are eliminated. Finally, it saves the County $152,570 in interest.
With this budget amendment, we reduced the county budget, tax levy and debt in a small way. But it's a good start.
Please thank the following ten County Supervisors for supporting this responsible decision:
District 1—Ed Schachtner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
District 3—Lynda Miller (email@example.com)
District 4—Tom Coulter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
District 6—Bob Long (email@example.com)
District 9—Bob Feidler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
District 10—Dave Ostness (email@example.com)
District 14—Andy Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
District 15—David Peterson (email@example.com)
District 18—Shaela Leibfried (firstname.lastname@example.org)
District 19—William Peavey (email@example.com)
Your encouragement of this positive action by these supervisors could pave the way for more progress.
Scott Nordstrand St. Croix County Supervisor District 2 (Towns of Somerset & St. Joseph)
Recycling of plastics
TO THE EDITOR
The U.S. generates each year more than 4 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps, according to the EPA. Only 9 percent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled. The equivalent of a truckload of plastic enter the ocean every minute.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is over half a million square miles and consists of tons of pieces of plastic. This of course find its way into all creatures living in the ocean, as well as humans who ingest food from the ocean.
Each one of us is responsible for doing what we can in whatever small or large way to reduce this problem. Two ways: One, bring your own bags when you shop. Some folks leave the grocery store with a cart full of plastic bags, some with one one or two items. And two, contact businesses and corporations. Tell them to phase out plastic. One good way would be charge a fee for plastic bags. However small the fee, it would remind customers of the problem and possible solution.
Disney, Starbucks, Marriott and McDonald's are getting rid of plastic straws. Kroger Co. plan to be plastic-bag free at all of its nearly 2,800 stores by 2025. Encourage corporations like Procter Gamble, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and Kraft to reduce plastic in packaging. We do not presently have presidential leadership encouraging care for the environment. It is up to each one of us.