Letter: DL city services benefit rural folk, too
A recent letter commented that voters living outside the Detroit Lakes city limits should have a vote on the ballot question regarding a city sales tax for the proposed police station. Setting aside the many election law/residency/taxing authority statutes that do not provide for that to happen, consider these questions:
- Who benefits from the services the City Police, Fire, Public Works, Library, Museum and Parks Department provide every time we drive into town? Do we pay for the privilege of using them on an as-needed basis? Of course not. Public services exist for the benefit of all people, regardless of residency, income, citizenship status and ability to pay.
Imagine a community where the taxpayer has to pay a police officer to stop a suspected drunk driver so they can travel safely home from work. The question of whether rural residents benefit from city services is an easy one to answer. Read this newspaper for weekly examples of their outstanding work for the region.
- Does a non-resident of any jurisdiction reasonably expect to have a vote on local issues in any jurisdiction to which they enter? Of course not. Who among us could know whether a St. Paul lodging or sales tax is worthy of our yes or no vote? Do Minnesotans who shop in Fargo object to paying North Dakota sales tax on clothing?
- Anyone in Detroit Lakes last winter couldn't help but see the impact one volunteer-led, city and county supported project had on our community. Did the thousands of visitors who traveled here to witness ice harvest or take in the Ice Palace and Polarfest protest a minuscule few cents on their restaurant, hotel or Lakes Sport purchase? Of course not. They came to Detroit Lakes because we have a magical community of caring people who want to invest in making this a special place to visit or to raise their family.
The few tax dollars invested by the city and county were multiplied many times over by the businesses and individuals who added their time and talents to a historic effort. The additional sales tax revenue prove the point — instead of the locals shouldering the whole tax burden, a tax such as the one proposed levels out the impact by allowing all those who visit the city to "contribute" their fair share to the cost of having a welcoming, safe community for them all year-round.
As a rural Becker County resident these past 24 years, I'm grateful to our public servants for doing the work to make sure we're all safe and have access to government services from the many municipal and county departments all of our tax dollars support. So thanks to the City of Detroit Lakes for all you do to enrich my life. Whether you're an elected public servant, a city employee or a city taxpayer, I appreciate the many benefits you've provided me. You're why I live here.