Diamond Lake Area
Recreational Association
Atwater, Minnesota
Diamond Lake News
Nineteenth Annual
September 2001
Annual Meeting

   Diamond Lake Recreational Association held their annual meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday, August 18 at the County Park Shelter.  It was cool and overcast, but lots of hot coffee and donuts were served to warm up the approximately 50 lake residents in attendance!
   Board members were introduced.  Several of these (well  ALL of the board!) members have been working on various lake issues such as:
    *  Budget Projects for the 3 year grant money recently received
    *  Working with the DNR on lake/water quality monitoring using new equipment.
    *  Possibility of house/street/emergency numbers for lake residents.
    *  Lakescaping/shoreline restoration and education.
   In addition to the above projects (and a great deal of work not mentioned!) Judy Christensen, a new board member, has created Diamond Lake's very own website!  Lots of useful, up-to-the-minute information.  Check it out: www.diamondlakeassociation.homestead.com.
   Many good questions from lake residents!  Fortunately our lake advisor, Steve McComas of Blue Water Science, was in attendance to answer them, as well as explain his recommendations for Phase II projects.
   Thank youto all the members of the Diamond Lake Board of Directors and to all the lake residents  working together we can move forward on our goals of improving and sustaining the quality of Diamond Lake for everyone.

Web Site

Have you looked at the Diamond Lake Web Site lately? If not, you may want to check it out, as we are adding new information all the time.  You can view the following on our web site:
   *  DNR Information (water quality, clarity, levels, fish consumption & county parks)
   *  Area Maps (lake maps, Kandiyohi County & more)
   *  Weather (local and averages)
   *  Lake Historical Data (ice out and lake freezes over information)
   *  Diamond Lake Newsletters (2001 & 2000 newsletters)
   *  Board of Directors (BOD names & contact information, BOD and annual meeting minutes)
   *  Miscellaneous (June storm pictures, June water problems pictures and more)

The address is www.diamondlakeassociation.homestead.com.

   We want your e-mail address so we can keep you up to date on lake association information.  We will e-mail you the newsletter, the minutes from the Board of Directors and annual meeting and let you know of upcoming events (or when volunteers are needed  for example the weed cutting spring effort).  You can get us your e-mail address a couple of ways:
   1) go to the web site listed above and use the "E-mail me" button
   2) send an e-mail to DIAMONDLAKEASSOC@mn.rr.com.

Help us keep you informed by sending us your e-mail address!
Assessor's Valuation
by Tim Groschens

   Summer is in full swing with residents around the lake enjoying the benefits of living on the lake  sounds of children playing, and breezes blowing.  Have you ever wondered about the value of your lake home?
   A starting point in understanding value is the Kandiyohi's County Assessor.  Each spring the Assessor's office sends out a statement of market value to all homeowners.  Among other things, this value is used by the Auditor's office to calculate your property taxes.  The Assessor's objective is to assess every property at as close to market value as possible.  Market value is the price a willing seller would pay a willing buyer in an arms length transaction.  Market value is an objective measure that uses a series of formulas to determine "land value" and "building value".  The land value for lakeshore property is calculated in terms of "front foot value" or "running foot value".  The assessor uses a standard foot value for each lake and then adjusts it for each piece of property depending on factors such as lot depth, weeds, and height (too high or too low is not good).  In 1999 the Assessor used $500 per foot as the value of the best lakeshore on Diamond Lake.  In 2000, the per foot value increased to $640.  Adjustments in the neighbor hood of 5  10% each were made for weeds, shallow water, high banks and large parcels.  When everything was said and done, the least valuable area was Diamond Woods at $126 per foot in 1999 (a 74% discount).  Once the land value is calculated, the Assessor looks at the building value.  For each building on the property, the Assessor will calculate the number of square feet and estimate the quality of construction, age and amenities.  From this a per foot replacement cost is calculated.  Depreciation is accounted for and the remaining per foot cost is multiplied by the total number of square feet to determine the building value.  Market value is the combination of building value and land value.
   So once market value is assessed, how does it change if the property is never sold?  The simple answer is that every sale in your area affects the market value of your property.  All property is assigned to a district which includes similar properties.  For Diamond Lake, all lakeshore property is included in the Harrison Township taxing district.  Every time a sale of property takes place in the district, the sellers calculates the ratio of the assessed value for the property to the sale price of the property.  For example, if a property was assessed at $60,000 and sold for $70,000 the ratio would be 60 over 70 or 86%.  If there are at least six sales in the area, the district can stand by itself.  State law requires the median ratio for the sales in the district to be between 90  105%.  If the ration is above the reassessment, the assessor again calculates each property's land and building values.
So, do the calculations of the Assessor's office reflect what you could sell your property for today?  Not really.  According to the Assessor's office, there have been several sales on Diamond Lake this year well above the assessed value.  These sales will result in increased market values next year.
   According to several local realtors, the current market value for tax purposes is low.  Lakeshore values have increased significantly over the last several years.  This is especially true on Green Lake.  One realtor estimated values have increased 20  25% in each of the last two years on Green Lake.  Diamond Lake has experienced smaller but still significant increases in value.  One realtor estimated the 2000 per foot value for Diamond Lake lakeshore could be between $750 and $1000 a running foot.  The most important factor in determining the value is the quality of the lake.  Factors that determine the quality of a lake include depth, water clarity and size.  Lake Associations coordinate owners' efforts to maintain and improve water quality.  If the owners of property on the lake won't work cooperatively on the problem, why should anyone else?
   One reason that the assessed values are lower than what many consider to be today's market value is the built in time lag in the assessment process.  The taxes you pay in 2001 are based on an assessment made in January of 2000 that used sales information from the period October 1998 to September 1999.  In times like this when property values are rising sharply, there is a lag which benefits property owners.  This difference could easily account for a 20  30% variance.
   A couple of closing notes.  First, if you have any questions or complaints about your market value, or the assessment process, call the Auditor's Office at 320-231-6200.  They have a wealth of information to share with you.  Finally, don't get too excited about value at least as far as it affects your taxes.  The amount of taxes you pay has more to do with the budgets of the county, school district and other taxing authorities.  As the value of your property increases, most likely everyone's will and your percentage of the total cost of government remains the same.  The exception to this is the recent tax bill passed by the legislature.  The effect of the tax bill is to reduce part of the school districts' expenses included in the overall budget funded by property taxes.  This will result in lower overall taxes.
Taking a Dive
by Bob Meyerson

   Limnologist and Association Consultant Steve McComas was out on the lake early July 6th.  He thought it a good idea to examine conditions for curlyleaf and algae, especially given the turgid condition of the water this year.  After strapping on a weight belt to make it easier to settle down to the lake bottom, and donning a rather heavy (75 lb.?) oxygen tank, over the head (Lloyd Bridges style), Steve slipped off into the brown broth.
   He chose two locations because of their previous heavy infestation of curlyleaf; the north side and the west side.  What he found was the dog that didn't bark.  There was virtually no curlyleaf to be found, and no turions, the pod-like seed casings, but there was some native grass of the kind we want on the lake bottom.  There were, however, quite a few live snails on the north side.  At first, Steve wondered if this could account for the disappearance of the curlyleaf.  But then he found none on the west side where the curlyleaf has almost disappeared.
   The findings are puzzling.  Could the pest plant be cyclical in nature, and if so what is the cycle?  Is its decline due to a lack of a specific nutrient that is used up>  Does the early algae play a role?  Water samples were take for later analysis.
Taking A Dive (another view)
by Ella Meyerson

   The Diamond Lake Association's professional human bottom-feeder receded into these waters, hunted for nasty weeds, and returned to shore.
   This time he came up clean, however, whether from better land and water use, or some natural cycle, turion counts for both the north and west sides were both zero per 100 square inches.  Steve's 1998 data (at a glance, anyway), showed turions in the teens on the north side; twenties on the west.  What he did find was the usual  the lake's native grass; and snails on the north side  as many as 4 per 100 square inches.  "Something must be feeding on them," was Steve's initial remark on the snails.  He also said the pelicans are here for the fish, soon to leave this and other area lakes.
   As resident tender (with by dad Bob), I took water samples and secchi disk readings.  The water samples will be studied by Steve and sent on.  The secchi disk readings averaged 2 ¼' on the north side; 3 1/3' on the west.
   Steve took underwater photos, notes and his resident tenders' information back with him to St. Paul.  Hopefully not at too great an upset to the now healthy lake, he also helped himself to a large ziplock baggie teeming with swimmy things.  We await further word from Steve on this seemingly rejuvenated lake.
   Daughter fish.
2001 Legislative Report
by Terry Frazee, reprinted with permission of "Green Lake Breeze"

Phosphorus ban on lawns:
   Various bills were introduced to restrict the use of phosphorus fertilizer for lawn applications, but no legislation passed. (H.R.1508Howes and S.F.1565-Higgins) called for statewide ban on the use of phosphorus fertilizer for residential and commercial lawn application unless a certified soil survey determined that phosphorus was needed on the soil.  New sod would have been exempt, and phosphorus-free fertilizer was defined as zero phosphorus content.  A Department of Agriculture bill (H.F.1524-Leppik) provided model ordinance language that cities in the seven-county metro area would have to adopt if they wished to implement a phosphorus ban on lawn fertilizer application.  This bill defined phosphorus-free as up to 3 percent phosphorus and required the production of consumer information suitable for posing at retail fertilizer locations.
   This would have been a good first step toward a statewide ban.  Many metro cities, some of which already have bans on phosphorus restrictions and would have been exempted, opposed the legislation because they did not support state mandates for local ordinances.  In addition, the fertilizer industry continues to push for a 4 to 5 percent upper limit for fertilizer to be considered phosphorous-free.  Many state-wide meetings are scheduled for this summer between interested parties in the phosphorus debate, including representatives of the nursery, landscape, golf, agriculture, fertilizer and retail industries.  Please remember to use the fertilizer with the "zero" in the middle.

Lake Improvement District (LID)
   Legislation did not pass that required 51 percent of affected property owners to sign a petition before a lake improvement district (LID) could be formed by the county board.  Current law allows the process to go forward with only 26 percent of the property owners favoring the formation of a LID.  Only 14 LID's exist in Minnesota.

Permanent Funding for the DNR
   A proposal carried over from last year, to dedicate 3/16th of one cent of the current sales tax to game, fish, and parks programs received one hearing and was not debated again.  The DNR is expected to receive approximately $22 million from sales tax on letter tickets, which will be split between game and fish projects, state parks, metro parks and trails.  It would be nice to have some of these monies expanded to include waters within Minnesota.

Lakeshore property, cabins to receive significant tax break
   Property taxes were the most talked about issue at the Legislature this year and the final tax bill provided some good news to the owners of lakeshore property and cabins.  The biggest change is that seasonal recreational properties will be exempted from excess levy referendums, a move that will provide double-digit property tax cuts for nearly every cabin owner.  This provision is effective for taxes payable in 2002 and thereafter.  To help offset the loss of revenue for schools and local governments, cabins and resorts will be assessed a new statewide property tax.  Under current law, cabins are tax at 1.2 percent for the first $76,000 in value and 1.65 percent on the value over $76,000.  The new rates for cabins will be 1 percent on the first $500,000 in value and 1.25 percent on value above $500,000.  Seasonal recreational resort property received similar treatment with similar reductions. 
   Finally the bill phases out limited market value (LMV) over a six year time period, something we need to keep an eye on in the future.
   Overall, the property tax runs on the final tax bill indicate seasonal recreational property taxes will decrease by a statewide average of 11% compared to what taxes would have been under current law.  However, this is not a guarantee since properties in different parts of the state will be affected differently.

   The 2001 Legislative session was a fairly good one in terms of funding for fish and wildlife management.  Some of the highlights include:
   *  $4.7 million for the Clean Water Partnership, which helps local governments respond to water quality issues
   *  $4 million for fish management projects such as lake aeration systems, fishing piers, rough fish barriers, creel surveys, stabilizing lake shorelines, trout stream easement, etc.
   *  $1 million is for preservation and the improvement of state fish hatcheries and rearing ponds
   *  $1.1 million is for accelerated walleye stocking.  A report to the Legislature will detail how this money was spent.
   *  $850,000 is for grants from the Stream Protection and Improvement Loan Program.
   About the only bad news was the $11 increase for Senior Citizens Fishing Licenses.  Currently, anglers 65 and older may obtain a fishing license for $6.50 compare to $17 for a regular license.  Beginning March 1, 2001, the discounted senior license will no longer be available.  This change is predicted to generate about $1 million per year for the Game & Fish Fund, though I suspect it could be reinstated during next year's session.  Finally, for you boat owners, you'll only have to register your boat trailer once every 10 years thanks to a new law passed this year.  This will eliminate the hassle and cost of having to register the trailer every year.