By Deb Patterson
A final court hearing has been set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, to officially establish the conservancy. The hearing will be held in Kosciusko Circuit Court with Judge Michael Reed presiding.
The conservancy board met Friday, Aug. 20, to handle a number of pressing issues. Among those issues was establishing a proposed budget for 2022. This budget will be set by the Kosciusko County Council until a conservancy board is officially elected by the stakeholders of the district. Budget meetings with county officials have been set for Sept. 9 and Oct. 14. The first tax draw to the conservancy will be received in June 2022 with the second tax draw being received in December 2022.
The estimated budget is $640,800 for 2022. This figure includes $166,800 for the general budget and $431,000 in the cumulative improvement fund that includes dike repairs if the town pitches in $100,000 toward the repairs. Members of the conservancy board have been talking with the town regarding that matter. This will create a total tax levy of $.0459 per $100 in assessed value. The district’s assessed value has been estimated at $1,292,799,400.
Bill Pipp, president of the conservancy board, noted the cost per stakeholder on taxes is around where it was originally projected. “We are within range,” Pipp said. “We are well within the estimated amount projected.”
It was noted the general budget includes $55,600, or half of the 2023 general budget as there are no funds available to the district prior to the first tax draw. “We’re hoping there are funds left over, (from the private donations received to repair the flood control device) to hold us over to June,” said John Earnest, secretary. “We wanted to make sure we don’t get caught short again.”
During the meeting the board also looked at budgets on estimated revenue needed for 2023 and included scenarios with no debt and with debt. The proposed budget for 2023 indicates a drop in the tax levy to approximately $.0164.
During other matters, the board approved to proceed with wetlands delineation work for dike repairs, in advance of permitting. The wetlands delineation has to occur during growing season or between April 15 and Oct. 15, to aid in identification of wetland plants. The cost of the project is $6,650. Permits will then be applied for during the winter months. It is estimated work could begin in the spring 2022.
The board also approved payment of $23,000 to Anton Insurance for surety bond/liability insurance. Earnest noted the insurance is needed should the conservancy default in the future. The cost is higher than anticipated, however, it was noted in many cases insurance on the flood control structure is included in a town’s insurance policy along with other assets. However in this case, the flood control structure is the only asset.
The district’s website is up and running. While the site continues to be updated it is live. The website is turkeycreekddcd.org.
The next meeting of the board will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation Education Center, SR 13, Syracuse.