Council gets lake district fund options

stillwaterFour lake improvement district funding options to pay for aquatic maintenance on three city lakes were presented to the Stillwater City Council Tuesday.

Proposed aquatic plant maintenance on Lily, Long and McKusick lakes would cost an estimated $62,000 per year, according to City Engineer Shawn Sanders. Two weeks ago, Wenck Associates, Inc., recommended a combination of harvesting, herbicides and skimming treatments to get remove algae and vegetation from the lakes.

Sanders presented several lake improvement district plan options to the council. They include:

  • Separating the three lake improvement districts. The districts’ costs would include an annual $26.17 per property fee for residences on Lake McKusick; $3.36 per property fee for Lily Lake residences, and a $9.85 per property fee for Long Lake properties.

l Lumping the three districts into one with an annual cost of $15.18 per property to cover the entire project.

l Charging the city as a whole at $9.23 per property.

l Increasing the storm water utility quarterly base rate by $1.30 and charging residents citywide $5.20 per property.

“When Shawn and I talked we felt that though it’s not complex to set up a watershed district, the easiest thing to do is to do it with the storm water fund. $5.20 is not a great deal of money these days so that would be our staff recommendation. But we can do it anyway you’d like,” said City Administrator Larry Hansen. “I was actually surprised how little it was.”

Sanders said all the proposals would cover the Wenck recommended treatment costs except alum treatments because those weren’t guaranteed to work. He noted that it would add a surplus of cash to make ensure future maintenance would continue.

Each Lake has different needs and lake management costs would stretch over 15 years due to the aquatic harvester lifespan, Sanders said.

Lily Lake has the least need for upkeep and could cost $2,000 a year if the city did the herbicide treatment recommendation. It is not known if Lily Lake will open for public swimming. The lake has a public boat launch.

McKusick and Long lakes have denser vegetation that should be cleared so people can use the lakes for recreation. McKusick upkeep includes harvesting and herbicide treatments and algae skimming at annual cost of $42,000. Long Lake treatments include harvesting and herbicide treatments at an annual cost of $18,000.

“I like the idea of including the whole city in something like this,” Mayor Ken Harycki said. “That makes it seem as though we’re viewing it as a community asset.”

Councilmen Doug Menikheim and Ted Kozlowski said they wanted to hear more from the community before making any decisions on lake improvement districts and funding.
If the council opts to create a new lake improvement district, City Attorney David Magnuson said the process would include a 30-day notice, public comment period and resolution of the council. A decision is expected at the next council meeting.