New watershed district plans to host open house
SPICER -- The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District has slowly established itself in the last six months. Most of the decisions by the board of managers have been related to the district's organization, such as appointing officers, setting re...
SPICER -- The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District has slowly established itself in the last six months.
Most of the decisions by the board of managers have been related to the district's organization, such as appointing officers, setting regular meetings and renting an office.
The board set a preliminary 2006 budget and levy in September.
The district also has been recognized statewide as a River Friendly Community for the citizen work it took to establish the district.
"Basically at this point it's all organizational," said Dr. Robert Hodapp, president and chairman of the board of managers.
The district's formation was controversial. Proponents said it was needed to preserve and improve water quality in the area and said funding for water quality initiatives is scarce otherwise.
Critics said they didn't want another taxing authority, said the district would focus too much on the Green Lake area or said it would unfairly target farm practices.
The state Board of Water and Soil Resources approved the district's formation in April.
The board has been meeting since May. Its regular meetings are at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at the Bell Tower Plaza in Spicer, where its office is also located.
Thursday, the board of managers is hosting an open house, starting at 6 p.m. Residents will be able to view the official map of the watershed district and share refreshments with the board of managers.
A watershed district is a government entity that regulates water within certain boundaries. This district covers 275 square miles in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Stearns and Pope counties.
Almost 72.2 percent of the district's land is in Kandiyohi County.
The board has the authority to levy up to $250,000 for its general fund. The district also is allowed to levy $60,000 for an organizational expense fund. The district borrowed $45,000 from Kandiyohi County this year and will pay back the loan with interest next year with the $60,000 organizational fund.
The district will levy $310,000 when the general fund and organizational fund levies are combined. The total budget in 2006 will be $313,000.
Four residents from the Atwater area raised concerns about the levy at a hearing in September, according to meeting minutes.
The district estimates the levy will increase the taxes on a $100,000 home by $24, Hodapp said.
The board is focusing on putting together a required watershed district plan, which will take about six months, Hodapp said. The plan will help set the district's priorities.
The board is soliciting proposals from six or eight firms to help draft the plan, and it hopes to hire a firm by January, Hodapp said.
The watershed district board has not yet hired a district administrator because it doesn't have the money to do so, Hodapp said.
Ann Latham of Spicer, one of the leading proponents of the district, is the district's administrative assistant in the meantime.
In September, the district was awarded a Rivers Council of Minnesota "River Friendly Community Awa