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Crow Wing County: Board approves fund transfer for Ditch 13

A transfer of funds from the now-defunct Thirty Lakes Watershed District account to the Ditch 13 maintenance fund received Crow Wing County Board support Tuesday.

County Engineer Tim Bray told commissioners the watershed district board of directors agreed to donate about $6,000 to the Ditch 13 fund, on top of the $14,201 collected through a special tax assessment on property owners considered beneficiaries of the county ditch.

When the watershed district was disbanded, the county assumed management of the remaining funds, which were dedicated to water quality testing within the original bounds of the district. Bray said it was discovered the promised donation was never completed. He requested board approval to make the transfer of $5,965 to the Ditch 13 maintenance fund.

In 2015, the county board approved a new tax to pay for the maintenance of Ditch 13, one of 14 drainage ditches built more than a century ago in the county. Originally, the benefiting area contained 80 parcels, but in the intervening century those parcels became 730 smaller ones. Of the properties, 62.6 percent are owned privately, while the other parcels are owned by various government agencies, including Lake Edward Township, the county and the state.

Earlier in 2015, the ditch was the subject of a resident petition requesting repair, a request state law dictates must be addressed by the local drainage authority. While tasked by law with maintaining the ditch, which passes through private property, the county is barred from expending general fund dollars to do so.