Mixed results in voting to set taxing districts around Minnesota lakes

A sign at the public landing on Lake Marion warns people to check for invasive species. (MPR photo/Dan Gunderson)

Minnesota Lake residents continue to challenge the establishment of Lake Improvement Districts,  with mixed results.

A LID has the authority to levy fees, or taxes based on property value.  The money can be used to improve water quality.  The spread of aquatic invasive species has prompted more lake property owners to ask for the authority to raise money with taxes or fees. But the idea of new taxes led to a fight on some lakes.

Residents around Marion Lake in Otter Tail County petitioned for a vote on a LID that was established by the county commission. In a July election the Lake Improvement District was rejected.

In Aitkin County, residents around Lake Minnewawa also petitioned the county for a vote on a LID. Earlier this month lake residents voted in favor of the taxing authority. The Aitkin County board will hold a public hearing later this fall to formally establish the Minnewawa Lake Improvement District. And this week the Otter Tail County Commission received a petition asking for a vote on a LID that commissioners approved for Star Lake.

Since state law says LID elections must be held in July or August, the Star Lake vote won’t be scheduled until next summer.

Are you a lake property owner? What do you think of the Lake Improvement District concept?

  • WR

    Alright, as someone who has spent nearly every summer of my life able to enjoy my family’s lake-side cabin in Hubbard County, while spending most of my time in the suburbs of MSP or in the Mankato area, I feel I have to comment on this. I have lived in China for five years now for work and seen damage to the environment that I never had dreamt possible before. In a country with next to no wildlife whatsoever left – it was all eaten for food previously and now is ignored for the sake of making money – I know much better now than ever before how incredibly important it is that we all pay more for a trustworthy committee to clean and preserve what we have. This isn’t a joke and yes it’s expensive. But it is SO worth it. I am terrifed to imagine in 100 years, if the US economy runs into trouble and we become the next China so to speak, a land where we have so much to plunder yet no strong enough moral argument to tell someone not to pillage our land in order to feed themselves or their family, we’ll look back and wonder why we didn’t do more when the times were good. China was the greatest economy on Earth just 200 years ago. It happens. Such a big argument for such a pristine place (Hubbard County) so far away, I know… Nonetheless, it is still valid. I hope people have a little more faith in the governance of MN programs and understand a little bit higher tax now to preserve the amazing place we’ve got now will go so much farther for decades to come.

    • WR

      Oh, and a side note on invasive species: my Chinese friends suggested that we send in Chinese fisherman to target the Asian carp. They weren’t joking (although I thought they were at first). It comes from China and, even though people in the US don’t find it tasty, Chinese sure do. And if anyone knows how to target a species like the Asian carp it’d be someone who fishes the rivers of China. At first it sounded ridiculous and then I thought, maybe it’s worth a shot? There has got to be a way to organize something like that in a way that wouldn’t be a detriment to the environment that exists there already.