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Fallout lingers from CLRSD plan: Township residents are stuck with paying preliminary costs

Even though the Central Lakes Region Sanitary District (CLRSD) dissolved nearly six months ago, it's still affecting those living in the six Douglas County townships that were once part of the district.

Prior to its disbanding, CLRSD racked up roughly $3.4 million in debt, which now needs to be paid.

The six townships involved - Brandon, Carlos, LaGrand, Leaf Valley, Miltona and Moe - adopted resolutions, which stated how each of the townships would be settling the CLRSD debt.

The $3.4 million was to be paid by November 1 - five days ago - which meant most of the townships took out bonds to pay for their share of the debt.

The resolution in Leaf Valley Township has caused a stir amongst its residents. In fact, a group was formed, led by Wade Nibbe, a resident of Leaf Valley Township; Glen Olson, a landowner in the township; Mike Jeppesen, a Leaf Valley township resident who has parcels in and out of CLRSD; and Dale Diedrich, a township resident who owns several parcels of land all outside the district.

Nibbe, who spoke on behalf of the large group of concerned citizens of Leaf Valley Township, explained that the three township supervisors decided how Leaf Valley Township's portion of the $3.4 million - roughly $500,000 - was going to be paid for by the residents.

A seven-page resolution adopted by the township board back in August, indicates that the CLRSD cost allocation would be paid for by a set per-parcel fee through the levy of special charges among taxable parcels of Leaf Valley Township.

It would not use the ad valorem tax method, which is a tax based on the value of real estate or personal property.

According to the resolution, the set per-parcel fee method would "best avoid disparities resulting from the collection by ad valorem taxes, when no properties added value as a result of this project."

However, Nibbe explained that the document also has many different provisions in it, such as excluding parcels that had already been charged with another sewer assessment by the Alexandria Lakes Area Sanitary District.

Nibbe and others who are part of the concerned citizens group don't believe the costs are being shared fairly. "There are some residents who don't have to pay their full share, so to speak, and it looks like they are getting a break," Nibbe said.

Nibbe noted that the set amount per-parcel that residents who are part of the CLRSD in Leaf Valley Township is $831.26. There are many residents who own multiple parcels, like Glen Olson, who can't combine their parcels to receive a break.

Nibbe said it doesn't matter how many parcels a landowner owns; if he owns 10, then he will be charged the $831.26 per parcel, which amounts to $8,312.60.

The group is upset that the resolution was passed even though there was opposition to it.

Because the group feels there are too many inconsistencies with the resolution adopted by the Leaf Valley Township supervisors, they have spoken with an attorney, although at this point, no legal action has been taken.

"We don't want to go into legal action," said Nibbe. "We met with the board Tuesday night to make a last ditch effort to try and make this work."

Nibbe said the four-member group tried to talk with the supervisors to work something out.

"We are here to tell you that your resolution is wrong," Nibbe said the group told the supervisors. He added that the group asked the town board if it would consider doing what the other townships are doing. (See related story.)

He also stressed that the group doesn't want this whole ordeal to turn into a "lake people versus rural people" debate.

"We have always tried to avoid that - the lake people versus the rural people - that's what tears a town apart," he said. "We don't want any lines drawn in the sand."

During the meeting Tuesday night, Nibbe said the group felt that they weren't going to get anywhere with the township supervisors, but that they were just trying to get the supervisors to see the "unfairness of it all."

Nibbe said the group realizes that the costs accrued because of CLRSD have to be paid and they have never said they wouldn't pay; they just want a more fair assessment and to not have so many inconsistencies in the assessments.

Another meeting to discuss the resolution has been planned for next Monday, November 9. The special meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at the Leaf Valley Town Hall at 7 p.m.

The regular monthly meeting of the town board will take place on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. in the Leaf Valley Town Hall.

"We will see what comes out of the next two meetings," a hopeful Nibbe said. "If there's no agreement, then we'll have to let the lawyers hash it out."

Leaf Valley Township Supervisor Mel Bump was contacted by telephone Wednesday afternoon. He said, "I am not going to comment on that [the CLRSD issue] as we have legal counsel involved