Water management organization dissolution could mean fairer billing for residentsSome residents’ wallets may welcome the likely dissolution of the Lower St. Croix Water Management Organization within a few months.
By: Louise Ernewein, South Washington County Bulletin
Some residents’ wallets may welcome the likely dissolution of the Lower St. Croix Water Management Organization within a few months.
That was the message that came out of a presentation at Afton City Council’s Sept. 16 meeting, by Tim Power, Afton’s representative to the LSCWMO, who explained the organization was looking to merge with the Valley Branch Watershed District.
Power added there was currently a certain amount of inequity in billing among the residents of Afton, Denmark Township and Cottage Grove, whose properties were located in the organization’s boundaries.
For example, he pointed out, in 2007 Afton residents paid $11.15 per person for the water management organization. In Denmark Township, that figure came out at $27.57.
“Well, that must mean you are getting a real bargain (in Afton),” said Power. “(However,) what it actually means is that the one-third of Afton that is within the organization is getting subsidized by the other two-thirds of Afton, which is within the Valley Branch Watershed District.”
He explained that because the city of Afton spread the water management organization cost among all residents, citizens who lived in the Valley Branch coverage area were actually paying twice over.
Only residents living within the Valley Branch Watershed District are charged for the cost of that service, a figure that is added directly on to citizens’ property tax bills.
Power said the organization board was now working on a six- to 18-month timetable to merge with and be absorbed into Valley Branch Watershed District, if staff on the Valley Branch side of the operation proved to be in favor.
“In my opinion, this is a very significant happening that we are looking at in this case,” he added.
According to Power, the main goals of the organization in the last five years have been conducting studies of the three main sub-watersheds within the district, developing a set of rules governing standards in the area, and monitoring the quantity and quality of water in the three major streams and one lake of the organization.
For some time, Power said, he had been searching in his own mind for the next step in a series of improvements to the continuing operation of the organization.
“I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that perhaps merging into Valley Branch would be better than remaining an independent organization,” he continued.
“We will be having administrative costs as long as we continue to exist and if we merge into another organization, we will be seeing a reduction in those costs.”