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Couple Kayaking

About a Lake District

Like many other lakes, the crisis we have on our hands has caused us to consider a Lake District. The White Potato Lake District (WPLD) was established on May 18, 2023. The goal of the White Potato Lake District is to address the immediate concern of the eurasian waterfilfoil, which will be an ongoing battle. Once under control, the Lake District can focus on other improvements to the lake. Have questions? Check out the FAQ. 

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FAQ

faq

What is a Lake District? 

A specialized unit of government designed to manage a lake. It may only be formed on lakes that are publically accessible. Since 1974, when Wisconsin passed legislation allowing the formation of lake districts, over 200 lake communities have formed lake districts, including 
       1)  Townsend Flowage Protection District
       2)  Chute Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District #1
       3)  Lake Noquebay Rehabilitation District
       4)  The Inland Lakes Protection & Rehabilitation District #1 was established in
             1974 and includes Reservoir Pond, Horn Lake, Little Horn Lake, Explosion Lake and a portion of McCaslinBrook
       5)  Crooked Lake Area Lakes Protection & Rehabilitation District is charged with managing the health and quality of Crooked Lake, Gilkey Lake, and Bass Lake.

 

A lake district has powers and governance provisions and is guided and operated by those who live in or own property in the district. The operation is directed by a board of commissioners composed of elected volunteers and local officials. Both resident and non-resident property owners have the right to vote and hold office in a lake district. 

What are the advantages of forming a Lake District?

The district is able to address lake and watershed issues that threaten the lake’s ecosystem. The financial direction of the district is determined by the district residents and property owners by a budget that is submitted and approved by them at the annual meeting. The district has the ability to levy taxes, as determined by law and with the approval of the property owners, to manage the environmental issues that could challenge the health and preservation of the lake. The district is exempt from federal and state income taxes and receives Wisconsin state sales tax exempt status. 

Can a lake district be more effective in support of preventative measures for aquatic invasive species infestation? 

Yes. The Lake District actually can be more proactive than an association because of more financial stability to sustain lake management and treatment programs to address invasive species such as Eurasian Water Milfoil, Purple Loosestrife, Zebra Mussel, Rusty Crayfish, Chinese Mystery Snail, Spiny Water Flea, Curly-Leaf Pondweed, Phragmites, and Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia which is a deadly fish virus. 

Is a Lake District able to spread costs over all property owners in the district?

Yes. Each property owner will be assessed the same mill rate. 

What will a lake district cost me as a property owner? 

The process in determining what the levy would be for your property is as follows: Lake District board submits a budget at the annual meeting. As a property owner, you would vote on this budget at the annual meeting. Then this budget amount would be divided out among all of the properties in the district in relation to your tax assessment. 

Can a Lake District still get grants? 

Yes. A lake district is eligible for state and federal grants. 

Can a lake association still be maintained? 

Yes. An association could still be maintained to work side by side with the district. However, funds from an association could help reduce the tax burden within the district. 

Does a Lake District help to sustain property values? 

Actually, yes. It has been proven that property within a lake district is found to have greater market appeal and is, therefore, more saleable. 

My Lake Association membership dues were tax deductible. Is the Lake District assessment tax deductible? 

Since the District Assessment is on your tax role, it may be fully deducted. *Please check your deductibility with your tax advisor. 

The next 12 Q&A’s deal with operating a Lake District once it is established.

 

1) Does the Lake District have control of the real estate and zoning within its’ boundary? 

Response: The district has no authority regarding these issues. The Town or County regulations have the control. 

2) Could fishing, jet skiing, boating hours and water regulations be adopted that would be unacceptable to district members? 

Response: Yes, but not without property owner support. Any proposed regulations must be approved by the membership at the Annual Meeting. Public notices must be published and letters must be sent to all district property owners detailing the agenda items prior to the Annual Meeting. 

3) Can a Lake District be sued? 

Response: Yes, just like your church, school, city or township, a lake district can also be sued. For this reason, like the other organizations, liability insurance is a requirement for a lake district. 

4) We disagree with having another government body that establishes regulations and controls. 

Response: The Lake District is a specialized unit of government designed to address lake and watershed issues that threaten the Lake’s ecosystem, protects the beauty and the use of the lake, and protects lake property values. A tax levy provides the financial means to manage the protection from, and control of, Aquatic Invasive Species (“AIS”). 

5) How is the Lake District board of commissioners selected? 

Response: Five (5) commissioners provide management direction for the district; three property owner representatives on the commission are elected at the annual meeting. 

6) When is the Lake District annual meeting? 

Response:  Annual Lake District meeting must be held between May 22nd and September 8th. 

7) Could the District be dissolved? 

Response: Yes.  an elector within the district or a property owner within the district notifies the district board of commissioners in writing at least 90 days before the annual meeting that the elector or property owner intends to petition for dissolution at that annual meeting. The notice of the annual meeting must include a statement that a petition to dissolve the district will be considered. The district may be dissolved upon a two-thirds vote of the electors and property owners present at the annual meeting. 
The county board shall by order dissolve the district following receipt of the petition if the county board finds that one or more of the standards for the creation of a district under s. 33.26 (3) are not met. The order for dissolution shall be conditioned upon proper petition to the circuit court and appointment of a receiver to administer the winding up of the district under the supervision of the court and a final order of the court. The attorney general shall represent the state and shall be a party to every dissolution proceeding where state money is involved.  [i]

8) Are absentee or proxy voting permissible for the Annual Meeting? 

Response:  No, absentee along with proxy voting does not provide the non-present member the benefit of hearing the discussion of an issue during the meeting. 

9) Is there a limit on how much a District can tax? 

Response: Yes, the levy by a Lake District is capped at 2.5 mills or $2.50 per $1,000 of Fair Market Value (“FMV”) for lake quality management programs.   * Chute Pond uses 1.3 mills as of 2018 (per discussion at 4/28/2018 OCLAWA meeting) Many Lakes do use a flat rate levy.

10) Who can vote at a Lake District Annual Meeting? 

Response:  A person can vote if they are a U.S. citizen over 18 years of age and are either: 

a. An elector (a resident in the Lake District who is able to vote in other local/state elections). Electors do not have to own property in the district. 

b. A person whose name appears as an owner of real property on the tax roll within the district 

c. A person who owns title to real property even though the person’s name does not appear on the tax roll (i.e. a spouse) 

d. A person who is the official representative, officer or employee authorized to vote on behalf of a trust, foundation, corporation, association or other organization owning real property in the Lake District. 

 

11) Will the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“WDNR”) have a hand in the budget? 

Response:  No, the budget is set by the voters in the District at the annual meeting. The WDNR has no say in what the budget will be in a given year. 

12) Why isn’t the WDNR responsible for controlling the problems in our lakes? 

Response:  There have been numerous attempts to have the control of invasive species covered by recreational fees paid to the state government, but many of them have not made it through the political process. The legislature dictates the funding provided to the WDNR. The economic/political climate has limited the funding. The WDNR provides competitive grants to a Lake District to address the AIS problem.  [i]
 

 

[i] http://www.nstlra.com/Downloads/2015_Lake_District_QA.pdf

 

Notes:

During the past few years many lakes in Wisconsin have been infected with AIS.  According to the Wisconsin DNR negative impacts of Eurasian Water Milfoil – “include but are not limited to the reduction of property values. One study shows that property values have decreased as much as 19% on lakes infested by Eurasian Water Milfoil.” [iii]

 

Recently a Lake Study was done on White Potato Lake and 5 Goals were set out.  Since the study full implementation of these goals has not taken place.  Since thousands of dollars were spent on the study, it is or should be a high priority for all to start implementing these goals and protect out lake.

 

Questions can be directed to any board members.  Our Website is  https://www.whitepotatolake.org

 

Officers’ emails are listed at https://www.whitepotatolake.org/officers/

 

We can also be reached by mail:

White Potato Lake Advancement Association

PO Box 173

Pound, WI  54161-0173

 

[i] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/33

[ii] http://www.nstlra.com/Downloads/2015_Lake_District_QA.pdf

[iii] https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/care.html

 

Cleanup Efforts

Here are the first round of cleanup efforts. 

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