The leadership of the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District has changed again.
About 270 residents at the lake district board’s annual meeting Saturday elected newcomer Jim Jelinek and write-in candidate Mark Meyer to three-year terms on the board.
The two replace incumbent board Secretary Joan Huedepohl, who did not seek re-election, and incumbent treasurer Ray Lunder, who has been on the board since 2001.
The board also chose new officers, picking Al Sweeney to replace Steve Proud as chairman. It also appointed Jim Bowers as secretary and Meyer as treasurer.
Saturday’s reshuffling changes the balance of power on the board, reducing the voting bloc that agreed with positions held by longtime chairman Brian Christianson, who was ousted last year.
During his 14-year tenure, Christianson led efforts to increase the depth of Lake Koshkonong. Others have opposed those efforts, saying higher water levels would harm wetlands and shorelines. The dispute has been the subject of ongoing litigation.
Dissatisfaction with the current board was evident in a Aug. 1 letter to The Gazette. Chairmen from the towns of Fulton, Albion, Koshkonong and Milton called for transparency in the board’s spending, accounting and auditing practices, and they called on voters to elect new leaders to the board.
On Saturday, voters took control of the meeting by reordering the agenda and voting to accept a proposed 2020 budget of $160,000 prepared by Meyer, the write-in candidate, and handed out by his supporters before the meeting.
Meyer’s budget was amended to $178,000 before being approved. It includes an additional $18,000 for legal expenses, funded by a new fee of $45 per parcel.
However, Proud and lake district attorney Bill O’Connor said that $45 fee won’t cover legal fees associated with the state Department of Natural Resources’ wetlands evaluation.
The DNR raised the summer water level on Lake Koshkonong in 2017. However, O’Connor said the agency does not plan to raise the water level by another 2.4 inches, which had been scheduled for this year, until it completes a wetlands evaluation.
O’Connor said the DNR believes continued high water levels contributed to conditions that were not conducive to the wetlands study. He said there was no guarantee the agency would approve a higher water level.
Voters rejected a proposed amendment to add $26,000 to the budget for potential legal fees related to the study.
Meyer’s budget differed from the board’s proposed $300,000 budget, which was not presented. That budget included some money for a $100,000 engineering study on modifications to the Indianford Dam as well as money to help complete a $450,000 boat launch project on Bingham Road in Albion.
The $300,000 budget called for a fee of $75 per parcel.
Meyer said he wasn’t against improvement projects, but he said planning was not at a stage where budget discussions were practical.