To the Editor:
We, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, are writing regarding land purchases by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in Palo Alto County and the entire State of Iowa.
We are becoming concerned about the amount of land in our county (and the state) that is owned by government entities. While we have agreed with some land acquisitions by the DNR and the county conservation boards in the past, our county is now ranked in the top 10 counties in the state for government-owned land.
Obviously, one of our responsibilities in county government is to control taxes and expenditures and maintain a balanced budget. For example, we have tried to control expenses by taking steps such as freezing salaries and cutting some department budgets.
Unfortunately, every time the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (or other entities) purchases land in our county, the tax burden on our private property owners increases and the amount of land available to our young or beginning farmers decreases.
We understand and respect the mission of the Foundation, and we know it has done great things for the State of Iowa. But given our ranking in the state for government-owned land, we need to start being more vigilant about the tax burden on our private property owners.
Palo Alto County and all of Iowa's counties and citizens deserve more transparency from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Our county is asking that the Foundation keep all Iowa counties more informed of any possible land purchases that the Foundation is considering in the future, so that we can work together to make an informed decision about whether such a purchase is actually in the best interests of the state, the counties, and the property owners.
Sincerely, Palo Alto County
Board of Supervisors (signed)
Ron Graettinger, Ed Noonan, Linus Solberg, Keith Wirtz, Jerry Hofstad