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County officials hoping to work out lake issues with Watershed Authority

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The wheel tax to fund the Carroll County 1,000-Acre Recreational Lake and the prospect of legal problems with
the Watershed Authority was discussed during the April 3 meeting of the Carroll County Budget Committee.
As was pointed out during discussions, the county is between a rock and hard place regarding the lake, with some
citizens, namely Jan and Cyril Ostiguy, pushing to have the $10 portion of the wheel tax for the lake removed and
the Watershed Authority not budging on the issue.
Carroll County Mayor Joseph Butler explained that because of action taken by county legislators and a voter
referendum back in 2000, the county is legally bound to pay for 30 percent of construction and development at the
lake, and the Watershed Authority has complete control over construction and development projects for the lake and
how much money is spent on them.
Committee member Brian Winston estimated that the total debt for the lake now stands at around $27 million,
counting for construction and development costs accrued so far, and, even if no more debt is added, it will take 20
years to pay off the debt through the wheel tax.
Committee members generally agreed that it would be best if the Watershed Authority turned control over the
lake to county government, along with $11 million of the debt, or, at least, agree to freeze the debt for the lake at its
current level.
Some on the committee expressed doubt that the Watershed Authority would ever agreed to either of those
options and raised concerns that it might come to a lawsuit.
The possibility of the county hiring legal counsel to look into what the county can legally do in this situation was
also discussed, but no action was taken in that regard.
“Let’s talk to them [the Watershed Authority] before we do that,” suggested committee member Johnny Blount.
Butler said that he would make contact with Watershed Authority members and try to set up a joint conference
with the Budget Committee, tentatively set for Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m., but it had not yet been determined
whether or not that conference would happen as of press time Monday.

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