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Star Lake LID opponents submit petition

Petitioners are calling for a referendum vote on a proposed lake improvement district at Star Lake, southwest of Perham. 

Members of the Star Lake Property Owners Association first started looking into the establishment of a lake improvement district, or LID, about two years ago.

Proponents say the revenue made possible through a LID could be useful in the future, to help address common issues like high water and aquatic invasive species.

According to a report aired on WDAY last month, hundreds of property owners on Star Lake pay dues every year to help keep the pristine lake at its best – those being the “175 to 200 property owners that are members of the property owners association,” explained Lee Mindemann, chairman of the association.

That’s out of a total 853 property owners of the lake’s 471 parcels.

With a LID, a local unit of government, the cost of improvements can be assessed to all property owners.

The LID submits a budget to the county each year, Mindemann told WDAY, “And then the county would add that to the property tax bill of all people that own property within that proposed LID.”

The money that currently comes in through the lake association quickly flows back out toward betterment of the lake, Mindemann said, and “we know the current budget of the property owners association is not going to be sustainable over time” to meet rising costs.

But opponents dislike the very idea of a LID. In the WDAY report, Marvin Hexum was quoted as saying he was against LIDs because, “It’s more government, to begin with.”

Hexum owns two properties around the lakes area, and he believes the costs covered by a LID shouldn’t be coming out of property owner’s pockets.

“The DNR, which is state, they are basically in charge of the lake,” he told WDAY. “So, they should fund things that need correcting on the lake.”

In order to be valid, a petition calling for a referendum vote on a LID has to be signed by at least 26 percent of affected property owners.

A petition on the Star Lake LID was received by the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners at a meeting last week. The County Auditor will report back to the board on the validity of the petition.

A referendum vote would likely not take place until July of next year.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent