The Kingsbury County Commissioners met Tues., July 19 at the De Smet courthouse for their regular meeting and to discuss the Lake Thompson outlet.
Echo Steffensen informed the commissioners that the Wilkinson Law Firm contacted her, asking for a lien to be removed from a property that the De Smet School is purchasing from a resident. The lien for $339.28 was due from a prior owner, now deceased, and the current owners were not aware of the lien until it was discovered during the current closing.
Doug Kazmerzak questioned why it wasn’t caught earlier, and how something like this had been handled previously.
Commissioners approved the removal of the lien from the property, so the school can close on the property.
Kazmerzak informed the commissioners that he discovered the National Soybean Association is offering grant assistance for improvement on local bridges. Kingsbury County could be eligible for a good amount of assistance. It is a very new program, so he will continue to check into it.
Commissioners discussed placing a new levy to help the county keep up with increasing costs and expenses for the county’s infrastructure.
Kazmerzak said that although the county is experiencing revenue growth, the majority of those funds go to the schools. He is concerned that if they don’t have a levy in place soon, they won’t have enough funds available in the future to keep up with infrastructure costs.
The maximum amount that could by levied is 90 cents per $1,000. Twenty-five percent of the levy collected would go to the cities for fixing their roads. It would be distributed the same as the wheel tax is divided for each city.
In order to place a levy on property owners, the commissioners would have to publish their intentions and give the public 20 days to petition it. In order to petition the levy, residents would need to collect signatures from at least five percent of the county’s registered voters.
The commissioners would also need to hold a special meeting in which the public would be invited to attend and comment on the proposed tax levy.
Commissioners asked Steffensen to create a printout with a work up of numbers, showing how it would affect taxpayers. They would like to have different scenarios available to give taxpayers a better idea of how it will affect them.
Tanya Flegel told the commissioners that her department no longer uses the water truck they have in inventory, and David Sorenson, highway superintendent, would like to use it for the highway department. Commissioners made a motion to transfer the water truck from the conservation district to the highway department.
Flegel informed the commissioners that she continues to apply for state grant money for the county. The state has $500,000 available in grants each year, but that’s for the entire state. Flegel said that with the limited funding available, every district has to fight to get the money needed for their districts.
Commissioners asked Jim Knight for an update on the current Lake Thompson outlet situation.
“Picture Lake Thompson as a big flat bowl with a chip out of it on the south end where the outlet is located,” said Knight. “Rain causes it to fill up, and the water level only goes down with evaporation and when it hits the level to reach the outlet.”
After the flood in 2019, several agencies came to Lake Thompson to determine the proper depth the outlet needed to be to avoid future flooding.
After receiving donations, the outlet was cleaned out with an excavator, which removed debris to get it to the level required.
“Right now, the outlet is dry for the most part, with cattails growing in parts,” stated Knight.
Knight informed commissioners that several residents around Lake Thompson are filing a petition to form a group to oversee the lake. They were able to collect signatures from 65 percent of the residents.
The Lake Thompson Area Board of Water would be structured like a town board, overseeing the outlet and other issues around the lake.
Paul McMasters asked Knight why the outlet wasn’t cleaned out more. McMasters believes that the water level is still too high.
Knight explained that the agencies who deal with flooding lakes decided on how to handle the outlet, and they could not go deeper.
Kazmerzak proposed someone check that the outlet is still at the level the agencies suggested.
The commissioners will be publishing an advertisement for a public auction on one parcel consisting of three lots to be auctioned in the courtroom of the courthouse at noon on Aug. 16, 2022.
The commissioners asked that the advertisement include a map showing where the property is located, along with the legal description.
Cindy Bau discussed the Tango Tango subscription with commissioners. She said it has worked out very well for everyone to communicate with cell phones with this new service, and they would like to continue it.
Bau asked the commissioners to consider helping with the cost of the service. The total cost is $14,528 annually, and the fire departments and ambulance services don’t have a lot of money available.
The commissioners put the cost of $6,471 down on the county’s preliminary budget and agreed to discuss it further at a later meeting.
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