Rock-Koshkonong District turns down proposed tax increase

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Ashley McCallum
Sunday, July 30, 2017

FORT ATKINSON-- Members of the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District voted, overwhelmingly, against a $20 per parcel increase on property taxes at its annual meeting Saturday.

Board Chairman Brian Christianson said he was not surprised to see large opposition against the increase.

“I kind of suspected it. The electors, they don't mind raising their own taxes on themselves but they want it to go into projects that will have a significant impact for recreation,” Christianson said.

The proposed increase would have raised the property tax “special-charge” from $45 to $65 and contributed $80,000 overall toward modifications on the Indianford Dam.

But, proposed modifications totaled $300,000, meaning the district would have needed financial support from groups other than taxpayers, Christianson said.

If approved, the lake district board would have applied for a grant from the Department of Natural Resources for $150,000 and pursued funds from area wetlands groups, Christianson said.

Proposed modifications included:

-- Reduced maintenance by removing trash racks and keeping upstream debris barriers

-- Replacing and mechanizing slide gates on the dam

-- Removing wicket gates

Modifications were explained by Rob Montgomery, a UW-Madison civil and environmental engineering professor.

These changes would primarily affect the lake when water levels are low, but not make significant changes when water levels are elevated, Montgomery said.

“So we're spending $80,000 to not do anything but waste money,” a member of the district yelled out during the presentation.

“I think the value of doing this is a concern regarding maintenance, but the hydraulic impacts are modest,” Montgomery said.

Philip Lenox of Fort Atkinson voiced his opinion during open discussion.

“There's a lot of ways to spend money very well, but in my opinion this isn't one of them,” Lenox said. “I personally urge you to vote no on the special-charges, I think it's a waste of power and taxpayer money.”

Lenox's opinion was shared by many in the room, when a large visible majority of members voted against the increase.

Spirits rise with high water levels

After 14 years of petition, the lake district's dreams of raising the water level for slow-no-wake orders on Lake Koshkonong was passed by the Department of Natural Resources said Bill O' Connor, attorney for the lake district announced Saturday.

The Department of Natural Resources will allow the maximum water level before a slow-no-wake order to be 2.5 inches higher than in the past, O' Connor said.

This will last two years, he said. In 2019, if the Department of Natural Resources determines that the rise has not made a “severe adverse impact to wetlands,” it will raise the maximum another 2.5 inches, for a 5 inch total increase.

Water levels on Lake Koshkonong are currently 2 feet above the level for a slow-no-wake order, meaning this action is not currently relevant, but is in affect, Christianson said.

The Department of Natural Resources has not told the district, specifically, how it will evaluate the wetlands in 2019, O' Connor said.


Commissioner Jim Bowers and Secretary Steve Proud were re-elected for three-year terms.

George Wellenkotter, of Indianford, was nominated as a write-in candidate. He accepted nomination because he felt people were looking for “a different voice” on the board, he said,

Bowers and Proud received 85 votes a piece, securing their seats on the board. Wellenkotter received 25 votes.

A story on page 2A of Sunday's paper incorrectly reported that votes received for George Wellenkotter. The correct number of votes received was 25.

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