A large turnout is expected tonight at the Salem Lakes Committee of the Whole meeting, where the Village Board will discuss the establishment of lake protection and rehabilitation districts.

A contingent of residents from the Silver Lake area is urging residents to attend and voice opposition to the formation of lake districts, which are taxing bodies. Most of the inland lakes within the village have qualified lake associations.

The meeting will follow a 6 p.m. special Village Board meeting at the Village Hall, 9814 Antioch Road.

The issue is about more than semantics. Lake associations are voluntary groups while lake districts are special purpose units of government with taxing authority, according to information from the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Associations

To be eligible for state lake planning, protection and recreational boating facilities grants, a lake association must be “qualified,” which includes being incorporated and meeting other standards.

Associations’ funding comes from voluntary donations.

Lake districts

Lake districts are established by town, county or village boards per Chapter 33 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The boundaries of a lake district usually include all riparian owners. It can also include off-lake property that benefits from the lake or affects the lake’s watershed — as is the case in Twin Lakes. The district may include all or part of a lake or more than one lake.

Lake districts set annual budgets funded by tax levies or special assessments. Residents who live in the district vote on the annual budget at an annual meeting which must be held each year between May 22 and Sept. 8.

According to a flyer being distributed by Salem Lakes residents in opposition of forming a lake district, the cost “could be as high as $250 per year for a $200,000 property in addition to special assessments.”

However, it is unclear where this estimate came from. As an example, the lake district levy on a Twin Lakes home valued at $250,000 is less than $100.

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