In spite of the inauspicious day of April 15, Vermillion Rotary had a good turnout for its weekly meeting at the Freedom Forum on the USD campus. Our meeting was opened by President David Hussey with Rev. Robert Grossmann leading in opening prayer.
After singing a couple of songs, including Home on the Range, a number of guests were introduced, including four Vermillion High School seniors and Vermillion Mayor Christopherson. Sergeant-at-Arms Al Pravecek levied a few fines, but himself was the victim of a fine for mowing his lawn during a winter storm watch last week.
Vermillion rotary had the privilege of hosting a delegation from our sister city, Ratigen, Germany. Present from Ratigen were its mayor and five ladies who had come to Vermillion on a cultural exchange.
The program was presented by Mary Edelen with the Ratigen mayor speaking through a translator while he gave a description of their city as a small industrial center of about 93,000 inhabitants. From his description, it is clear that German cities are very much in direct competition with each other in inviting industry to locate in their city.
Each city establishes its own local tax structure, often to provide incentives for businesses. This provides a healthy environment for business to prosper and Ratigen is home to a number of important companies. Because of this, Radigen's tax collections are substantial and until recently the only other government level in Germany, the national government, was able to simply take funds from the local city treasuries without asking.
Ratigen took this practice to court and won the case, freeing themselves from such freeloading by the national government which also collects large income taxes from German citizens.
A guided slide tour of Ratigen was also presented showing various historic buildings including the oldest industrial museum on the continent of Europe and various parks. Rotary was very privileged to enjoy this presentation from our neighbors in Germany. Our meeting was closed by the singing of the first stanza of My Country 'Tis of Thee.