Crow Wing County Board: Board updates lake improvement district policies
A policy guiding Crow Wing County's practices concerning lake improvement districts was approved by commissioners Tuesday.
The Crow Wing County Board accepted staff recommendations to update its policies concerning the districts, which permit assessments on affected property owners on and around area lakes. Those dollars are in turn used for projects to manage the lake, including combatting aquatic invasive species or weed control.
Chris Pence, division manager for environmental services, told the board the policy updates put into words practices already in place, much of which is guided by state statute. The county's policy deviates from state law in two areas, Pence said: the requirement for a supermajority to establish a LID, and county board reapproval is required every five years.
To establish a LID, petitioners must collect the signatures of at least 60 percent of property owners, who would pay additional taxes based upon how much money petitioners proposed to collect. The petition must outline exactly what activities the funds would support.
Commissioner Paul Thiede asked Pence whether a district could be reconsidered by those in the minority, should they be dissatisfied with an action of district representation.
"If the 40 percent who didn't want that saw problems with it, could they petition, if nothing else, to re-petition if we want to continue the LID?" Thiede asked.
Pence said there was no process in the statute allowing such an action, although if a majority of residents—50 percent plus one—sought a petition to terminate the district, it would go to a public hearing.
Commissioner Paul Koering asked whether the county board retained the authority to eliminate the district.
Pence responded they would have that authority. At the five-year mark, those administering the LID are required to prepare an in-depth report outlining what's been accomplished and what the plan would be for the next five years.
Thiede wondered what the mechanism was for determining whether LIDs were properly using funds.
"Do we make sure that when they're collecting this money and they're using it to improve the lake, that they're not just collecting it and putting it in a CD (certificate of deposit)?" Thiede asked.
Pence said LIDs do not have taxing authority on their own, as is the case with watershed districts and sewer districts. Instead, the funds are held by the county and are paid out to the LIDs when they send in a request. Pence said they do deny requests, sometimes suggesting the expenditure would be more appropriate for a lake association.
Pence said LIDs don't typically have the problem of acquiring too much money, but rather needing more. He said county staff is evaluating whether a LID could increase its assessment amount by a certain percentage—5 percent, for example—without approaching the board each time. The board could potentially pass a resolution establishing that allowable amount, should it be permissible under state law.
Pence said although some who volunteer with LIDs believe the policy updates are making it more difficult to operate a district, there's nothing new. He said the county attorney's office reviewed the statute in accordance with the policy.
"We want to put this in place so that everyone understands what the expectations are moving forward," Pence said.
The commissioners offered unanimous approval of the updated policy.
In other business, the county board:
Authorized the transfer of funds from the Ditch 13 maintenance fund to the highway department's road and bridge fund, following an accounting of materials, supplies and services provided to Ditch 13 in 2015 and 2016. The total amount transferred was $8,555.61.
Approved a resolution in accordance with a change in state law, which allows county governments to review subdivisions for compliance with a land use ordinance prior to recording. The resolution allows county staff to approve a lot subdivision prior to transfer of property ownership.
Allowed a land use map amendment on a property in Bay Lake Township. A 2.32 acre parcel was permitted to be changed from waterfront commercial to shoreland residential. The parcel is the site of the former White Hawk Supper Club, the building for which will be removed.
Vacated a portion of right-of-way on County Road 145 near Jenkins that's no longer needed for public purposes. The portion was part of a realignment project associated with the reconstruction of Highway 371.
Approved a lease agreement between the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the Crow Wing County Fair Association for use of the fairground facilities May 10-13, 2018. The sheriff's office will host a mounted patrol clinic those days. The rental fee is $1,000, paid from the mounted patrol's reserve balance and reimbursed by funds raised at the event.
Approved the direct sale of a tax-forfeited parcel to an adjacent property owner in the city of Crosslake. The quarter-acre parcel is located on Island Lake and was sold for $70,200.
Renewed a license agreement with the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center for a snowmobile trail for the Baxter Snowmobile Club.
Reappointed the following people to committees: Patrick Wussow to the Countywide Transit Committee as the District 3 representative through Jan. 31, 2019; and Rebecca Best to the planning commission/board of adjustment as the District 3 representative through Jan. 31, 2019.
Accepted the promotion of Kristen Binsfeld to social worker and approved replacement staffing for the financial worker position she moved from.
Accepted the departures of Sue Maske, planning assistant for land services, and Kathy Nelson, financial worker for community services. Replacement staffing was approved for each of these positions, along with staffing for a jail sergeant and two correctional officers.