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Lake County has little to gain from land sale

A 65-acre parcel of publicly owned North Shore land was recently sold at auction. It is unfortunate that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources school trust land bureaucracy is so short sighted that it is turning over publicly owned land with pristine Lake Superior shoreline to private interests.

What did Lake county residents gain? My calculation is approximately the following. My understanding is the sale price, $1.2 million, goes into a general Minnesota school trust fund with interest income to be redistributed to all Minnesota residents for school purposes. With Lake county having approximately 10,000 residents out of approximately 5,000,000 Minnesota residents, the county gets about 0.2 percent of the income generated from $1.2 million. At a generous rate of return on principal of 10 percent, this amounts to approximately two cents per year per resident for Lake County schools. Not much!

Property tax wise, a $1.2 million parcel in private hands might generate $15,000 a year in property taxes. Divided among the roughly 10,000 people in Lake County this amounts to $1.50 per resident in tax relief. That's enough for an extra cup of coffee for everyone in Lake County, each year.

This land has intrinsic value as an attractor of North Shore vacationers, which was ignored by the DNR. Preserving this land for future generations of visitors and the stimulation of local business growth that follows could have been a far better deal for Lake County in my opinion.

I am not an accountant, just a concerned citizen, who spends thousands of dollars enjoying the natural riches of North Shore each year. So if my calculations are way off, I would like someone to enlighten me.

It looks to me like Lake county residents got a bad bargain.