Board Votes to Move Forward with Fountain Lake Dredging

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners last week petitioned the Shell Rock River Watershed District to move forward with the first phase of the Fountain Lake dredging project.

The vote opens the door for the Watershed District to implement a property tax levy of a maximum of $166,000.

The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Glen Mathiason, Mike Lee, Jim Nelson and Chris Shoff voted yes and Dan Belshan voted no, Shell Rock River Watershed District said in its release.

Watershed officials have said that the money would provide funding security for the $1.9 million bond for the first phase of the dredging project, which would remove 550,000 to 690,000 cubic yards of sediment from Edgewater Bay.

The levy is expected to increase taxes by $6 on a home valued at $100,000. The expected property tax levy increase on a $200,000 home is $15, and the property tax is expected to increase taxes by $55 on an 80-acre parcel.

Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea volunteer, Laura Cunningham, spoke in favor of dredging and other water quality efforts, describing them as “critically important.”

She noted that 72 percent of voters approved extending the district’s half percent sales tax for either 15 years or until $15 million has been collected. Extension of the sales tax is awaiting legislative approval.

“Collaboration is definitely key to the water quality effort,” Cunningham said.

Fountain Lake dredging is expected to remove 1.2 million cubic yards of sediment from the lake. The project is expected to cost $15 million.

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