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Letter: 4-H cut takes money out of local economy

Recently, I spoke with one of the Washington County commissioners, pointing out that the 4-H program helps to bring more then $200,000 of consumer spending into Woodbury from people who live in other counties.

The money is spent here because these families bring their kids to participate in 4-H and stay to do their household shopping. The commissioner replied that it didn't matter because the county doesn't receive the sales tax from consumer spending.

This is an odd position to take. Without consumer spending the acres of strip malls and shopping centers lining the streets of Woodbury do not have money to pay the property taxes that the county does receive, let alone pay wages to workers.

The 4-H program, together with the Washington County Fair, brings hundreds of thousands of dollars into this community.

The money budgeted for 4-H funds five site-based programs targeting at risk youth, the traditional 4-H clubs, 16,000 volunteer hours, amazing leadership opportunities for kids and provides the bulk of the entertainment and volunteers for the county fair.

Unlike the Girls Scouts, 4-H is a public/private partnership with educationally-based programming funded in large part through the Department of Agricultural and the State of Minnesota.

4-H is not a private charity and never has been. Expecting the kids and families involved with 4-H to make it something it's not is an unreasonable demand.

Julie L. Finch

St. Paul