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Lake Board Discusses Dredging

January 31, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

The long-range plans of the Five Island Lake Restoration Board were explained to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. Along with the briefing was a request for some assistance with the ongoing dredging project.

Rick Jones and Jeff Stillman, members of the Lake Board, presented their request to the Supervisors at the Board's weekly meeting.

"The Five Island Lake Restoration Board is looking for financial assistance,"?Rick Jones stated. "Five Island is not the only lake in the county, as we have Silver Lake and Lost Island Lake as well, and they are all a tremendous asset to our county."

According to Jones, the restoration and dredging program for Five Island Lake is in the waning stages.

"It appears that we have three years left in our dredging project,"?Jones explained. "We did not dredge last year, but we have been assured of $100,000 in funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for this year."

Jones continued. "We have also been assured of $200,000 for each of the next two years from the DNR, as the DNR?had $8.7 million allocated for lake restoration projects. But, the Governor has proposed moving $7 million to other areas of the budget, but that has not been approved."

Jones and Stillman related how the initial talks about dredging Five Island Lake began in 1989, and bonds were issued by the City of Emmetsburg in 2000 to purchase the dredge and equipment for the project.

"Since then, the development that has taken place around the lake is more than we ever thought possible,"?Stillman said. "That is a huge benefit to the county in the form of tax revenues."

It was noted that residents of the Silver Lake area have been in close contact with the Five Island group to learn more about lake restoration, as they work on developing a plan to improve Silver Lake, possibly through a dredging program.

Jones was asked the current status of the dredging project.

"We did not work last year due to employee issues, but for this year, we have contracted with Tim Bunda, who ran the dredge for several years," Jones explained. "He will hire the staff and provide the insurance for the workers and we will pay him $1 a yard for material removed by the dredge."

Jones noted that $400,000 in bonds were issued for the project back in 1990, and $100,000 in casino funding has also been received for dredging as well.

"What exactly is your request for funding?" asked Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

"The county receives one-half of a percent from the casino, which is roughly $160,000 to $170,000,"?Jones said. "Our request would be for a portion of those funds."

"I'd go on record as being in support of their request,"?noted Supervisor Ed Noonan. "I'd be in favor of it."

Jones noted that during the life of the dredging project, the City of Emmetsburg has provided management of the program and funded roughly $31,000 yearly.

"How much has the county contributed toward this?" asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

"Nothing," was Jones' reply.

Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser informed the board that the casino funding of the one-half of one percent goes directly into the county General Fund.

"That gets used for property tax relief, right?"?asked Board Chair Ron Graettinger.

"No, that comes from the Local Option Sales Tax,"?Moser replied.

"We realize that this is something you need to think about, but we would greatly appreciate the county's support in something that has a direct positive benefit to the county as a whole," Jones said.

The board agreed to consider the Lake Board's request and discuss it and report back to the group.



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