Process of establishing a conservancy district outlined at county lakes council

DONALDSON — Thursday’s meeting of the Marshall County Lakes & Waters Council was all about establishing conservancy districts.

Since conservancy districts are entities that can employ taxes or user fees, many people were hesitant or wary of the idea; however, guest speaker attorney Ethan Lowe made it clear that conservancy districts are created with a purpose in mind and adhere to strict rules.

“Establishment of a conservancy district can be an effective means of dealing with lake management issues, including establishing and enforcing lake levels, implementing effective storm water and surface water management techniques and operating recreational facilities in conjunction with beneficial water management,” explained Lowe in a document passed out to those present, going on to explain that a conservancy district focuses on a resolution of the limited problems for which it is created – problems like earthen dams, weed control, sewage, etc. However, a conservancy district must be created for a purpose, and that purpose cannot change.

“In order to implement the district plan, a conservancy district can impose two types of real estate property taxes,” Lowe said. “Conservancy districts are authorized to impose a ‘special benefits tax.’ The special benefits tax is only special in that it applies to all real estate located within the boundaries of the conservancy district and obviously does not apply to real estate located outside of the boundaries of the conservancy district.”

This tax is adopted and imposed identically to any real estate property tax, based on the assessed valuation of properties.

A conservancy district is also able to impose user fees.