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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lakes Madison and Brant Vote on New Project District July 18

Residents of Lake Madison and Lake Brant get to play democracy this summer: the State Board of Water and Natural Resources yesterday approved an election date of Saturday, July 18, for lake residents to vote on whether they want to create a new water project district.

The meeting, conducted online via our state's remarkable Dakota Digital Network, gave Round Lake resident Robert Todd and attorney Rolly Samp an opportunity to tell the board about what the water project district might accomplish. Wentworth Park resident Steven Kant spoke in opposition to the project (see the arguments he offered last September).

As I understand from Robert Todd, the folks on the Interlakes Water Quality Committee who've been moving this idea forward were hoping to have a regular election, with a polling place open all day long and an opportunity for folks to vote absentee. However, the administrative rule governing special district formation (SDAR 5:02:04:22) requires an actual meeting at a specific time. In other words, must be present to vote. Voters must also be registered within the district, so Sioux Falls folks who weekend at the lakes will not be eligible to vote unless they change their registration to their Lake County address. Update 2009.06.15 09:00 CDT: Correction! The Secretary of State's office clarified for us that absentee voting is allowed; if you need it, get your absentee ballot from the Lake County Courthouse.

Now remember, Lake Herman is left out of this proposed district—we're just too cranky to play nicely with others. But if this district does pass, the next logical step will be for organizers to look into expanding the jurisdiction to include the humble headwaters of the Lake County portion of the Lower Big Sioux Watershed. I will thus be watching from the sidelines, but with keen interest. Will Lake Madison and Brant voters create a new tax for themselves in the midst of a recession? How interested are McMansion owners and jet-ski jockeys in protecting their environment? The discussion should be interesting.

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