01STOCK_ROCKCOUNTY_SEAL

JANESVILLE

A Rock County Board committee is seeking to replace four of the five members on the Rock County Drainage Board, an agency that has had its share of controversy in recent years.

Committee Chairman Rich Bostwick did not immediately respond to a Gazette inquiry about why all but one of the members are up for replacement. The news release does not name which members could be leaving the board.

In February, bills seeking payment to the drainage board prompted outcry from some drainage district residents, who said the bills were made improperly and without a necessary public hearing.

The letters said property owners who did not make their payments by Feb. 25 could have liens placed on their properties. Some residents who received bills pledged not to make payments until they could get answers about how the money would be used.

Drainage board Chairman Dennis Beggs in February told The Gazette all fines were imposed according to proper procedure. He said he would not place liens on properties and promised to hold a special meeting explaining the bills prior to the Feb. 25 payment deadline.

The bills followed a different controversy in which former chairman Chris Dickert sued the board over a fine involving a drainage ditch. A Rock County judge sided with Dickert and ordered the drainage board to pay more than $900 in fees and remove a lien against Dickert’s property.

While the county is facilitating the applicant search, it does not oversee the drainage board. The drainage board is a local chapter overseen by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Drainage boards are organized to drain lands for agricultural or other purposes, and each drainage district within a board’s jurisdiction can have different land use or property owner rights, according to a state handbook.

Wisconsin has 176 drainage districts and 25 county drainage boards.

To be eligible to serve on the drainage board, a person must own property within one of seven drainage districts in Rock County. Appointees will serve terms of one, three, four or five years, according to the release.

Applications are available on the Rock County website, www.co.rock.wi.us, or at the county planning and development office. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 30.

Hard copies should be submitted to Rich Bostwick, c/o Rock County Planning and Development Office, 51 S. Main St., Janesville, WI 53545.

The agriculture and extension education committee will forward up to 12 applicant names to Rock County Court, which is responsible for drainage board appointments, according to a press release.

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