February 28, 2013 | Volume 118, Issue No. 9

Pine County renews contract with Arrowhead Transit

At its February 19 meeting at the Pine County Courthouse in Pine City, the Pine County Board of Commissioners voted to renew its contract with Arrowhead Transit.

The regular board meeting was barely able to make a quorum, as two commissioners were out with excused absences. However, the board didn't take up anything particularly controversial, and the meeting proceeded without any problems.

Jack Larson, Transit Director for Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), requested $50,000 from the county to continue transportation services in Pine County. The board was informed that total operating expenses for 2012 were $438,455, and capital costs were $84,813. The board was reminded that the county had agreed to pay 15 percent of the operating expenses and 20 percent of the capital costs not to exceed $58,000.

Because ridership of Arrowhead Transit is up in Pine County, revenue has been slightly higher than projected, and AEOA requested less than anticipated. This amount was approved by the board.

It was also noted that PHASE in Pine County has been using Arrowhead Transit since January of 2011 and has been very satisfied with the transportation services offered.

Tax reform seminar

The board saw a slide presentation by Paul Johnson, Deputy Auditor, who attended Governor Dayton's Tax Reform Seminar in Isanti. A chart of average taxes paid by all the states showed that Minnesota's taxes have gone down since 2002 and Minnesota is now below average in the amount of taxes paid by its citizens.

The slides also showed that the top 10 percent of Americans receive 50 percent of total income, and that the middle class has been shrinking. The presentation showed that the amount of taxes paid by Minnesotans is unbalanced, with homeowners paying a larger percentage in property taxes than in sales taxes and income taxes.

He added that Minnesota has a higher sales tax than neighboring states, but on fewer goods and services. The Governor's plan calls for a reduction in sales taxes to 5.5 percent, but to cover more goods and services. The Governor feels that at under the present system, more taxes are paid by those least able to afford them.

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