What’s New

To:  Property Owners of White Ash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District
RE:  Lake Assessment Discussion and Vote at Annual Meeting on 7/25/2020
Date:  7/27/2020

The purpose of this message is to provide information regarding the recent Lake Assessment discussion and vote that occurred at the annual meeting on 7/25/2020.  The inaccurate information posted on Facebook needs to be clarified before sharing the information from the meeting.  First of all it must be noted that we are the White Ash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District which means we are a lake district and not a lake association.  There is a significant difference between the two.  A very complex and extensive process is required for forming a lake district.  A lake district is a specialized unit of government designed to manage a lake or group of lakes.  The White Ash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District was formed in 1977, thanks to a very diligent and hard working group of individuals.

One of the major differences between a lake district and a lake association is a lake district’s ability to tax property within the district.  Therefore, the way money is obtained for operating the Lake District is by levying a general property tax on all taxable property.  This Lake Assessment appears on the annual property taxes.  It is not an association fee or dues for use of the lake.  The tax levy is used for the purpose of doing lake business.  The specific activities and expenses are identified in the annual budget and include: administrative expenses such as mailings and postage, accountant costs for payroll and payment of employee income taxes, harvesting expenses including labor, equipment maintenance and repair, lake monitoring expenses for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) monitoring, water quality testing, clean boats/clean waters citizen monitoring, development and maintenance of an APM Plan for harvesting, and other materials and supplies needed to manage and maintain a healthy, usable lake for the enjoyment of all property owners.

Making changes to the lake assessment procedure is not a task that is taken lightly.  This topic has come up numerous times in past board meetings because of questions from different property owners.  The last time the lake assessment was on the agenda at an annual meeting was in 2012 when there was discussion and a vote to determine if the White Ash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District would change their tax assessment procedure to a mill rate or continue with a set assessment amount.  More recently the topic of lake assessment procedures came up at a board meeting during preliminary budget discussions and the board felt that this issue needed to be on the annual meeting agenda.

The current discussion was about whether the tax levied annual lake assessment should be per property owner or per property since this was the issue that had been brought up by different people on the lake.  The annual meeting agenda included:  Lake Assessment, Discussion/Vote and there was no attempt or intent to be misleading or secretive.  During the discussion a question was also asked regarding voting procedures and whether or not a person got more votes for owning more properties (for example: 4 votes for 4 properties).  As per Wisconsin statue, ownership of more than one parcel of real estate within the district does not entitle the owner to more than one vote.  After discussion, a written ballot vote was taken and the result was that the tax assessment should be per property.  Following the vote further discussion occurred, and a motion was made, seconded, and approved to adjust the amount of the assessment per each property (based on the total number of properties) to achieve the total tax levy amount noted in the proposed budget for 2021 of $33, 066.  Therefore the assessment per property was set at $166.

From: The White Ash Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District Board

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August 24, 2019:  Information from Alex Smith, from the DNR, was shared by Jessica Flanery at the annual meeting regarding replacing trees:

“As for replacing trees and native plants, DNR has a couple of grant options.  First is the Healthy Lakes program that pay up to $1000 for smaller 350 square foot plantings and other things like rain gardens and infiltration areas.  The second is a Lake Protection Grant for that can pay for full shoreline restoration projects. https://dnr.wi.gov/Aid/documents/SurfaceWater/LakeProtectionGrantOverview.pdf  Both grants are due on Feb. 1, 2020 and the State pays 75% of the costs. Projects would start around May 1, 2020.

Polk County also has a tree and shrub sale program each spring: https://www.co.polk.wi.us/index.asp?SEC=6ACBEF15-9F30-4B8F-810C-8A8320AF5B44&DE=587CB82D-9336-43EB-9665-8A7A8B1D778A  This isn’t a grant program so the property owners or Lake District would have to pay for the trees and shrubs”.

Alex Smith
Alex.Smith@wisconsin.gov