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New OTC commissioner wants new sales tax revenue used locally

"We need an expanding economy...we need to bring in more dollars than we're sending out."

That was the Economics 101 message from Doug Huebsch Nov. 11 at the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce "Power Hour" networking meeting. It was one of his first appearances since being elected to the Otter Tail County Board. He will take office in January.

"We also need to remember that somebody's expense is somebody else's income," added Huebsch, stressing the importance of doing business locally to keep the money circulating in the local economy.

Expanding on the need for revenue at the local level, Huebsch is advocating that a portion of the new sales tax be funneled to local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The tax, approved last week by voters statewide, is estimated to average about $5 per Minnesotan per month. For the Perham school district with its approximate 10,000 population, for example, the tax would take an additional $600,000 a year out of the local economy--and send it to the state.

By using soil-water districts as a conduit, some of the state sales tax revenue would at least have a chance of coming back to local jurisdictions, suggested Huebsch.

Also, by using the soil-water districts, it won't be necessary to create another costly level of government, he noted.

Though as a county commissioner Huebsch has little direct impact on statewide legislation, he asked that people "hammer on every legislator, every get the school funding formula changed so it is more equitable for rural schools."

"We can't keep putting public education up to a vote," said Huebsch, in the wake of the failure of the Perham school referendum last week, by a 2-1 margin.

A similar levy referendum failed in New York Mills four years ago. The New York Mills school board is now considering another attempt at passing a levy in 2009.

Like any politician, a self-deprecating joke is always a good icebreaker with a crowd.

One voter asked Huebsch, a turkey grower, if he was going to produce more manure as a farmer or as a politician.

Huebsch said that, "at least turkey manure is a recyclable resource." But he noted that political manure is evidently a renewable resource--because there had been so much spread around during the election year.