THE FRIENDSHIP LAKE DISTRICT
AND BUDGET HEARING
Date: August 31, 2013
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: Adams County Community Center
569 N Cedar St
Adams WI, 53910
1. Opening of meeting by chairman: The meeting was called to order by Bob Berry at 9:05 am.
A motion was made by Bob Berry and seconded by Tom Bell to approve the amended agenda. Motion carried.
Present were commissioners Bob Berry (chairman), Fran O’Brien (treasurer), Tom Bell (secretary) and Ron Johnson (Town of Adams). Matt Morrow (Town of Preston) and Jake Roseberry (Adams County) were absent. There were 33 people present compared to 54 last year and 41 the year before.
2. Reading of last annual minutes: The minutes of the Sept. 1, 2012 meeting were read by Tom Bell. A motion was made by Betsy Vannettie to approve the minutes as read. It was seconded by Linda Moonan and was unanimously approved.
3. Treasurer’s report – 2012-2013: The treasurer’s report for 2012-2013 was read by Fran O’Brien. As of August 31, 2013 we have $26,638.48 in the Money Market and $709.66 in the NOW account for a total of $28,348.14. We have two CD’s totaling $36,575.67. The account total is $64,922.81.
There are some special assessments. One was an August settlement of $759 that was received from the Village of Friendship which includes part of delinquent sales property tax. We have not received payment from the town of Adams. They still owe $1,244.54 which includes a tax delinquency in the amount of $332.92. A motion was made by Pat McCue to accept the treasurer’s report as read. It was seconded by Greg Weiss and carried unanimously.
4. Budget hearing – 2013-2014: The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 was read by Fran O’Brien. Fran noted that there were some changes in format and includes all accounts.
Fran highlighted the following: a) The same dollar amounts used for the special assessments are the same as this year. b) A new entry for attorney’s fees has been added. Bob Berry explained that these fees are for getting the level on the lake set. This will be discussed in further detail in an upcoming agenda item. Charles Pfeifer asked Bob which attorneys were hired to look into this and Bob stated that he has been in contact with Stafford and Rosebaum out of Madison. c) The actual 2013 payroll amount is lower because we did not do as much harvesting this year. The budgeted payroll amount was left the same as 2013. d) The proposed 2014 Reserve Operating Revenue totals $21,069.70.
Nina Zelenski asked Fran to explain what Misc. covers. Fran stated that this includes office equipment and supplies. It also includes the donation to Mr. Ashworth for the fireworks. Fran noted that she will move the donation out of misc. into contributions next year.
A motion was made by Tom Sieskal to accept the proposed budget as read. It was seconded by Larry Swaziek and was unanimously approved.
5. Report on weed harvesting: The weed harvesting report was given by Adam Resch. Adam stated that the machine is old and needs replacement. He added that the total cost of repairs this year were around $6,000 (Fran reported that the actual amount was $5,485.83) and the big machine sees 95% of those costs. Some examples of repairs: replacement of three hydraulic motors at $360 each, one re-built motor using a $50 kit that was too time consuming to be worthwhile, and a ram he rebuilt for $23 that took 4 hours of labor to complete. These repair costs do not include labor and other repairs to the tractor and to the trailer.
Adam said that we had only 79/80 loads this year on the main body, versus 120/150 loads other years. On the east end we had only 17 loads versus 80 loads in other years. It was stated that we were lucky this year with so few loads because repair costs could have been higher. Adam closed by stating that we need a good machine that will take care of the floaters.
Since Adam is retiring this year to spend more time with his family and grandkids, received a big round of applause from the membership. Bob noted that the commissioners will be looking for his replacement. They do have some ideas and thoughts in mind and they hope the crew for 2013 will return since they worked out so well. Al had received many good reviews from lakefront owners, and Dennis did a good job after getting a slow start with all the stumps. Hopefully, the crew will be back next year.
6. Election of Commissioner (Secretary’s term ends): Bob Berry noted that Tom Bell has decided to retire to do more fishing and thanked him for his years of service. As posted in the Fall 2013 Newsletter Larry Swaziek indicated that he was interested in the position.
Larry Swaziek was nominated by Bob Berry and accepted. Larry Swaziek introduced himself. He and his wife moved to Friendship, 1083 Czech Lane, late November, 2012. He grew up on a farm in Muscoda, WI and worked in the private sector for an agricultural company. He left that job and worked for a state agency for a number of years. When he worked for the state he did work with other governmental agencies such as the DNR, counties and municipalities. Larry stated that he lives on the lake and has a vested interest in the lake and, in particular, the lake levels.
Bob Berry asked if there were any other nominations from the floor. There were none. A motion was made by Lloyd Hvorka and seconded by Ron Polhill to close nominations. The commissioners appointed an election committee consisting of Bill Graf, Betsy Vannettie and Greg Weiss. The committee counted the votes and Larry Swaziek was elected by unanimous vote, 32 to 0. There were no write-in votes. Larry Swaziek will serve a 3 year commissioner's term.
7. Friends of Friendship Lake report: Roberta Ebert was unable to give the report this year, so Linda Graf reported on several events that were held: a) The July 28th picnic in 2012 was attended by 50 people who had a good time and enjoyed the food and basket raffle. b) The September 8th brat fry and bake sale was successful with $933 in sales, and after-expense profit of $650. c) The annual Holiday Tables, sponsored by the Historical Society, was attended by 8 members. This event is always looked forward to. d) The annual Spring Fling was held this year on May 8th at Carlson’s with 41 people attending. The 50/50 drawing, table flowers and basket raffle were well received. The cost to the Friends of Friendship Lake was $211.25. e) The Friends donated $100 to the Ashworth family for fireworks. f) This year’s picnic was held on August 24th with 50 people in attendance. The Friends provided chicken and soda with everyone bringing a dish to pass. A 50/50 drawing and wine basket raffle were also held, along with bingo. g) The Brat Fry for 2013 is on Sunday, Sept. 8th. Linda Graf asked for baked goods for the bake sale. h) The Friends meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the 21 & 13 Café at 11:30 am. i) The current balance in the Friends account is $2,511.50.
8. Update on sale of Friendship Dam: Bob Berry stated that the DNR is of the position that the dam is owned by the Village of Friendship and not Chuck Pfeiffer. Bob asked Chuck if he has heard anything from the DNR regarding dam ownership. Chuck said that he has not heard anything from the DNR.
Chuck commented that, as a generator of electricity, the higher the level of the water the more money he makes. So, there is no reason for him to purposely keep the water level low to punish the lake owners. He added that, as the owner of the dam, he is liable for the dam. The lake level can not go above the maximum level permitted by law he could lose the dam. If he feels there is a storm coming and he needs to lower the lake 6”, 8” or 10”, he will do so. A buffer zone is needed between the maximum limit and an arbitrarily set low limit. There has never been a mandatory low limit established for the lake and he sets the low limit and he does the best he can.
Chuck pointed out that we have been dry lately and have not had rain in a long time. Nancy Chika asked Mr. Pfeiffer why in April this year the rain was 5 to 6 inches above normal and when she came out on Memorial Day there was no water in the lake and she could not put her boat in. Chuck did not have an answer. Chuck then added that we also have agricultural uses of water. It is his opinion, contrary to what people say, that when the wells are on, especially on the weekends when electricity is cheap, that they do draw the water down. Bob Berry added to Chuck’s comment about the impact of agricultural pumping that there are currently studies being done in the county measuring water flow in a number of the streams that flow into lakes. Little Roche-A-Cri is one of the streams that will be measured and will be measured over a number of years. The Adams County Land & Water Conservation Dept. is pursuing grants to help fund these studies.
Chuck felt that the hiring of the law firm to set the lake level is not how he would spend the Lake Districts money and he closed by stating that the Village of Friendship would have been in the driver’s seat if they would have taken him up on his offer at a no-cost deal.
As noted in the 2014 Budget discussion, the board has hired a law firm from Madison that deals in lake management issues, Stafford Rosenbaum. The commissioners are working with them to convince the DNR to establish a low level limit for the lake to get it to the level we would all like to see. Bob stated that it is this boards opinion, and he thinks the opinion of most of the members here, that we are going to push forward to get the low level set. You can see the water level from year’s past on the concrete retaining walls along the shoreline and can compare it to the lake level this summer. Bob was asked the status of the attorney’s work and he said he just got an e-mail from them last Friday and they said they are working on it. To prove our case Bob sent the law firm pictures of the water level marks on the shoreline and the dam. Bob confirmed that there are no documented low level limits. Linda Moonan added that Friendship Lake is one of a few lakes that do not have a low level limit set. Other lakes do have low levels posted on the DNR website. Hopefully, the DNR will consider these photos when they make their decision. Bob stated that we could be a ways away from getting results.
9. Lakes Advisory group report.
a. Update on Lake Management Plan: Linda Moonan, chair of the Lake Advisory Group (LAG) reported on the current status of the Friendship Lake Management Plan. Linda noted that the LAG was formed in September of 2012. One of the first important responsibilities was to work with Reesa Evans at the Adams County Land and Water Conservation Department (LWCD) to help update the needs of the lake and lake district membership. Linda noted that the Lake Management Plan had been forwarded to Bruce Sorge, DNR lakes specialist in Eau Claire, by the May 1, 2013 timeline for their review. In September the LAG will be sitting down with Adams County LWCD and finalize the plan so we can proceed with grant applications.
When that was completed Bob Berry asked the LAG to review the statutes and By-Laws that affect the Friendship Lake District. Some lake districts just adopt the Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 33, that set forth the requirements that the Lake Districts must meet. Larry Swaziek, a member of LAG, pointed out during his review that it is still important to keep portions of the existing By-Laws that give specific direction on how to implement the statutes. With that, the LAG has two proposed amendments to the by-laws that help clarify the law. One is to increase the number of members on the board by one (1). That additional member would be the Harvesting Coordinator. This position has always been an important position and should have voting rights on the board. Bob interjected that there are currently five (5) voting lake district commissioners: Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Adams County Rep., and one from either the Town of Adams or Town of Preston (the one with the highest tax base) which is currently the town of Adams. The second proposal would include the LAG as a recognized committee in the Friendship Lake District By-Laws.
Bob asked if there were any questions for Linda. A member asked, with the algae problems of 2012, in which direction is the lake management plan headed? Can chemicals be considered an algae/weed control mechanism? He has used chemicals successfully on his private pond. Linda stated that there is a component in the Lake Management Plan that does allow the use of different management procedures. One is for non-invasive procedures with an option to use spot chemical treatment. Linda noted that we have to keep in mind that we do have to consider mutations of the various algae such as milfoil when determining the treatment or management procedure. We also have to work with the county and the DNR with this plan and chances are the wide use of chemicals will not be permitted/allowed. The chemical option is still in the plan, though. A copy of the Friendship Lake Management Plan can be found on the www.friendshiplake.org website.
Bob thanked Linda for the report. Linda also reminded everyone that, if they wanted to join the LAG that they could contact her.
10. Discussion of new lot and ramp: As was approved at the last annual meeting, the lot has been purchased for the maximum amount permitted of $15,000. Bob Berry indicated that he has been working with a gentleman and the DNR. Bob stated that the process has been “tabled” so we can work at getting a new harvester for the main lake. The ramp could cost could cost up to $15,000 to install including the permits and the harvester up to $120,000. We need to balance the books. Bill Graf commented that he thought the ramp should not be “tabled” and that we should be more aggressive in getting the ramp project moving. The installation of the ramp could save money in the long run because of the reduced travel distance for the harvester. Another member was also concerned about the new shoreline protection rules coming up next year. If we wait, it may be more difficult to get a permit with the new rules. With that he also thought we should move ahead with the permitting process. What is the timeline on this project? Bob then rephrased his comment and said that the project is not actually on the back-burner and that they are pursuing the permits now.
11. Introduce 2 addendum proposals to bylaws:
There were two proposed addendums to the Friendship Lake District By-Laws distributed at the meeting that were also included in the Friendship Lake District Fall 2013 Newsletter. One had to do with the board electing the Harvesting Coordinator and their job description and the other was to recognize the Lake Advisory Group (LAG) as recognized committee in the by-laws.
Bob Berry started the discussion sharing the by-law language relative to amendments. Article VIII, Section 4 - Amending By-Laws states: “By-law changes may be proposed by a majority of the commissioners or a majority vote of the previous annual meeting. …”. That means that any proposals voted on today will not become new By-Law language until it is voted on, and approved, at the next annual meeting. Linda Moonan asked, why do we have to wait a year? Lloyd Hvorka commented that the reason for this is that a lot of the property owners are seasonal and the extra time is needed to know far enough in advance that amendments are being made that could affect them. A concern is that changes may be made in the winter by the commissioners and the more permanent owners when the seasonal residents are not able to attend the meetings. Bob noted that the by-laws do not permit amendments to be voted on at other than the annual meeting.
There was further discussion regarding the one year delay in amending the By-Laws. One concern was the notification issue. It was noted that the Annual Meeting notice is sent to all members of the Lake District with mailing addresses obtained from the tax roles. This is a means to get any information regarding proposed amendments that will be voted on to the district members. Curt Nordquist made a motion to amend the by-laws to eliminate the one-year delay and that a 30 day notice of the amendments be given prior to the annual meeting. The motion was seconded by Linda Moonan. The motion carried (25 For and 5 Against).
The first proposal distributed at the meeting regarding the Harvesting Coordinator position was then discussed. Linda Moonan noted that the language of the published proposal was not the language that was forwarded to the commissioners. The original language stated that the Harvesting Coordinator be given the position, Commissioner, and have the same voting rights as the other commissioners. This is done at the Roche-A-Cri Lake District and it has worked well for them. The Harvesting Coordinator would then have more input in the activities of the district. Bob noted that he had a concern about this proposal. If they have the position, Commissioner, that means they would have to be voted in at the annual meeting. What if the person that the commissioners hire are not voted in by the members of the Lake District? What happens then? Are they no longer able to work as the Harvesting Coordinator? Tom Bell suggested that, if the goal is that they be more involved in the district activities, then require the Harvesting Coordinator to attend all the meetings in their job description. A motion was made by Bob Berry that the By-Laws be amended to require the Harvesting Coordinator attend all meetings. The motion was seconded by Curt Nordquist. The motion passed unanimously.
A motion was made by Bob Berry to approve the second proposal regarding the addition of LAG to the recognized committee in the By-Laws. The motion passed (2 voted against).
During the previous discussion regarding the one year delay in approving amendments to the By-Laws, comments were made that there may be more member involvement in voting for changing the By-Laws if proxy voting would be allowed. Bob Berry suggested that a proposal be made to amend the By-Laws to allow voting by proxy or absentee ballet. Linda Moonan explained that the Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 33, specifically do not permit that. So, the change to the By-Laws would serve no purpose. The idea was dropped.
For those that want to view the Friendship Lake District By-Laws, they can be found on the www.friendshiplake.org website.
12. Any other new business
a. Discussion on possible new harvester
Bob Berry began the discussion by asking the group if anyone had any questions regarding this topic. Questions asked were: Are we going to keep the old harvester for parts? Bob noted that it depends on the replacement harvester we decide to purchase. Is there a committee pursuing this purchase? Bob stated, No. Bob did ask if anyone would be interested in being a committee such as this and no one responded. Bob is sure the harvesters and Adam would help with the search. Will the new harvester be able to cut into the pier? If the water is too shallow, less than 3 feet in accordance with the Lake Management Plan, the harvester may not be able to go into that area. If not, we can look at something that will. When will we have this and how much? Bob does not see the harvester being purchased next year and is not sure of the cost. We will be looking at replacing the large machine and not the smaller one used on the east end. The larger one works harder because it is used to harvest weeds for the largest portion of the lake. Bob will be putting this item on future agendas for general discussion.
13. Future meeting dates (9-11-13, 11-20-13, 1-15-14, 3-19-14, 5-21-14, 7-30-14) A motion was made by Bob Berry to approve the future meeting dates. The motion was seconded by Tom Bell and carried by unanimous vote.
14. Set meeting date for next year (8-30-14): A motion was made by Bob Berry to have the next annual meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at the Adams County Community Center, 569 Cedar Street, Adams, WI. The motion was seconded by Curt Nordquist and carried by a unanimous vote.
15. Adjournment: A motion was made by Lloyd Hvorka to adjourn and was seconded by Fran O’Brien. The 2013 meeting was ended by a unanimous vote.
Respectfully submitted by, Commissioner Larry Swaziek, Secretary