By Deb Patterson
A cumulative improvement fund was established by the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy District Board Thursday morning, March 18. This fund sets a property tax rate of $.0333 per $100 assessed valuation beginning in 2021, payable 2022.
The adoption of the fund, held at a public meeting, saw no public participation. However, individuals in the conservancy district have 30 days after March 24 to file a petition with the county auditor’s office. Bill Pipp, board president, stated the tax increase would range between $30 to $333 depending on the assessed value of the property and if it is a primary residence or secondary residence.
The hearing was followed by a scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. where directors received updates from Baker Tilly officials regarding financial matters and Lawson Fisher officials on engineering updates.
The board will be calling a meeting the first week of April to review a draft of the district plan, which is near completion. By law the district has to file the district plan with the state 120 days after its formation. That deadline is April 21. The board will decide at that time if an extension for filing is needed.
During the main business of the board, a series of documents were signed and discussion on a website design tabled.
A lease agreement with Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation from April 1 through March 31, 2026, was approved. The agreement allows the board to use the property not only for meetings but as an official office. The district will pay $500 a month and will be providing internet/phone service connection for WACF for remote meetings at a cost of $270 a month. WACF currently does not have that ability.
There was some discussion regarding the costs and why other locations to hold meetings were not sought. It was pointed out the state statute requires the district to have an office and location to preserve documents. Also it was noted WACF officials had initiated the offer and there was consideration of making a donation to the foundation for use, however, it would not be the best way. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Pipp stated, noting the board would have 24-7 access, use of the kitchen, pavilion and the property.
Other documents approved were a materiality policy — stating any financial discrepancies over $500 would need to be reported to the state board of accounts; and a pre-approval resolution allowing payment of claims in advance of board meetings if necessary.
Tabled items included an internal control policy, setting policies and procedures, to allow more time for clarification and a proposal from BCS Management, Roanoke, to develop a website.
BCS’s proposal included a $450 a month maintenance fee and a charge of $5,800 to develop a website. During the discussion the consensus of the board was it is in the best interests of the freeholders to get two quotes and the site focus on transparency, access, education and communication.
During other matters, it was announced a meeting will be held with David and Sherry Elliott, who own a majority of the property where the dike is located. The discussion will focus on potential perpetual easements being given to the conservancy and easement for the construction of a new dike. No aspect of work on the dike will take place until the design plan is approved.
Additionally, Dave Hollenbeck, attorney, was asked to check on the status of a transfer agreement with the Town of Syracuse regarding ownership of the flood control device.