Dorman answers lake-district concerns

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2002

The Lake Improvement District (LID) would neither conflict with other funding methods nor eradicate other lake efforts by the county or city, said Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, answering questions and concerns that have arisen about his proposal.

&uot;The LID and sales tax are not mutually exclusive,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;It is not replacing the sales tax. They can work together.&uot;

A major concern has been from lakefront property owners, who worry that they will be the only ones who pay for the lake improvements if an LID is put in place.

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However, a typical project by the LID would be funded through bonds, according to Dorman. The repayment is not necessarily by taxes imposed on properties in the district. And Dorman thinks the sales tax &045; a half-percent local tax proposed last year &045; could be applied to it. The LID can also raise funds by collecting service charges and assessing costs to benefited properties.

Dorman also anticipates the LID for Albert Lea and Fountain lakes would cover a wider area than existing LIDs, which usually consist of lakefront properties. The state statute encourages LID boundaries to follow watershed boundaries.

The county feels uneasy about losing control over lake management. It has been increasing its commitment past years. This year it has already spent more than $100,000 for the lakes in the county. And in the 2003 budget proposal, $275,000 is allocated.

Dorman reiterated that the LID is a government unit under the county board. And decisions, including any tax levies, are subject to the commissioners’ approval.

The county can continue its own projects, while Dorman thinks the LID may be able to handle some projects easier.

The replacement of a water-control structure on Albert Lea Lake, for example, could be the one, Dorman said. The county possesses the current dam. But the city would also benefit from a new structure. The county has counted on using the sales tax, at least in part, to fund the project. But the sales tax would be collected and spent by the city.

Dorman emphasized that the county and city can use the LID as a vehicle for projects that need coordination. &uot;This may be the framework we can work on,&uot; said Dorman. &uot;I want to make sure the people understand all options on the table.&uot;

The sales tax idea needs legislative approval before a local referendum can be held. Last year, the proposal died in the House Tax Committee.