Our governments can live within their meansNot long ago, I made my way down to Wabasha to visit the beautiful National Eagle Center.
By: Tim Kelly, Red Wing,
Not long ago, I made my way down to Wabasha to visit the beautiful National Eagle Center. The organization was receiving a $75,000 grant from the federal government to be used for expenditures and equipment, and I wanted to congratulate the staff on this accomplishment and see the kind of impact the center has made on the community.
What a marvelous impact it has been.
The National Eagle Center has revitalized downtown Wabasha. Since 2007, the area has seen plenty of new business growth as a result of the center’s popularity: More than 200,000 people have visited since the facility opened two years ago.
Interestingly, Wabasha has received this big financial boost through a bit of innovation and the marketing of a desirable attraction — the eagles. It also shows that increasing taxes is not the only way to bring revenue to a community. In this case, investing in a product encouraged businesses, and the tax base, to expand. Build it, and they will come.
Wabasha isn’t the only one around here living within its means.
The Goodhue County Board, following the lead of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state government, has also decided not to raise taxes on its residents, despite the fact that it had been encouraged to do so by administrative staff.
In my opinion, the board wisely recognized that many of our residents continue to struggle financially, and that raising their taxes — while increasing the amount of government spending in Goodhue County — sends a poor message to constituents.
Some Capitol insiders are already predicting a several billion dollar budget deficit next year.
First of all, be careful of taking those numbers as reality. These numbers suggest that all unallottment dollars go back into the budget and that all departments keep spending at current levels. It is not realistic to assume that these budgets will stay on the same spending pattern without the stimulus dollars to fund them.
I’m hopeful our legislative leadership will look to some of our local communities and county boards, find out how they are dealing with their budget issues by operating within the financial realities that are presented to them, and try to follow that approach.
Kudos to the National Eagle Center and its staff for creating a viable program that caught the eye of the federal government, and creating a destination that is making its community strong. And kudos to the city of Wabasha and the Goodhue County Board for recognizing that you don’t always have to raise taxes in order to make government work.
Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, can be reached at (651) 380-4345 or email@example.com.