Landowners to help fund dredge study
Lake district residents voted unanimously in favor of the fee hike during the district’s annual meeting Saturday. It will increase from $35 to $50 the special project charge attached to district residents’ annual tax assessment.
The increase is intended to push forward a $400,000 study by the lake district, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It’s part of a planning phase for an estimated $4 million to $6 plan to dredge and build islands for erosion control along key shoreline areas at Lake Koshkonong, officials said.
The study originally was slated for completion by October 2010.
Lake district chairman Brian Christianson said officials now hope to finish the dredge study by the end of this year, but he said it likely won’t be in time to capture funding from the DNR and the Army Corps before the two agencies finish their budget year.
Money for the study was supposed to come through an alphabet soup of state appropriations, including an agreement by the DNR for $80,000 in staff time—a pledge matched by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Christianson said as the year drags on and the dredge study remains unfinished, government money has gotten tight. He said the DNR now faces $50,000 in possible staffing and service cutbacks.
“It’s a cash flow situation,” Christianson said.
With the study now about two-thirds finished, Christianson said officials feared stopping to wait for government money.
“This is a huge engineering project. You let it stall out for cash flow reasons, there’s just too many unknowns,” he said.
The lake district’s fee increase will allow the dredge study to continue, with taxpayer funds plugging the shortfall in government funding.
“We didn’t want to shut the engineering projects down and try to restart it in the spring. We asked our taxpayers if we want to see this thing all the way through to the end, and (the fee increase) is what is required,” he said.
Christianson said plans for the project haven’t faltered. He said projects linked to the dredge study, such as a probe of lake sediment this spring by the Army Corps and three public work sessions this summer, have “added to the original timeline” for planning.
Work for the proposed dredge and island project, which Christianson said could cost $4 million to $6 million, remains unfunded and hasn’t been approved by lake district residents or state and federal regulatory agencies.
An experimental dredge and island-building project to test whether a full-scale dredge project would control erosion won’t start until the dredge study is complete.
Although questions over planning, permitting and funding remain, Christianson said residents have proven through their approval of a fee increase that they want the dredge project to move forward.
“The majority of our property owners want to see some dirt being moved. They want to see something tangible being constructed in and around the lake,” he said.