by Paul Rignell, Contributing writer
During an annual tax hearing held last Dec. 12 in county board chambers, several residents challenged the Sherburne County commissioners’ right – as a regional rail authority – to approve a special levy in support of Northstar commuter rail.
One of those vocal residents, Wendy Kowalski, put her own words into writing and presented her thoughts and research in the form of a lawsuit to the county board at its first meeting of 2012, on Jan. 3.
A home and business owner who is serving in public office elsewhere, on the Zimmerman City Council for the past seven years, Kowalski later told the Star News that she resigned from her capacity on Zimmerman’s Economic Development Authority in December (while remaining on the council) after concluding the EDA works like a private enterprise with public money, similar to the county board’s role as a rail authority, she said.
Kowalski said special levies are supposed to fund improvements that have been petitioned for by the people. “In this particular case (Northstar rail), no one petitioned for it,” she said.
Kowalski said she brought her documents to no one other than the board, and that she was waiting for response from County Attorney Kathleen Heaney.
Heaney told the Star News Jan. 4 that Kowalski’s documents totaled more than 100 pages. Per state law, the county attorney would have up to 20 days to respond to Kowalski on the county’s behalf but could request an extension, Heaney noted, depending on the level of investigation needed from the county’s perspective.