The Marshall County Drainage Board conducted a public hearing to consider an increase to the maintenance assessment for the J. Ballinger/Myers watershed. 

County Surveyor Craig Cultice told the public in attendance this is one of the largest watersheds in the county.  On the north side is 13th Road, on the east side of the county to Juniper Road, the county line on the south, and on the west side to Peach Road.  There are 22,048 acres in the watershed, and it includes the Town of Argos of 776 acres.  There are 934 parcels in the watershed with 602 paying over the minimum and 332 parcels paying the current minimum.  The open ditch is 35+ miles and 24 miles of tile drain. 

The J. Ballenger/Myers Watershed currently assesses $1.75 an acre with the minimum rate set at $6. The annual collection is $39,917 annually and the current balance on this watershed is a negative $69,076.84. The last rate increase was in 2013 and the maintenance expenditures in the last 10 years have totaled over $510,000.

The County Surveyor proposed an assessment increase to $3.00 per acre, keeping the minimum at $6.  That proposed annual assessment would create $66,826. 

The projected estimated average yearly maintenance would be $50,000 to $60,000.  Typical regulated drain maintenance activities include ditch cleaning, bank and tile repair, de-brushing, beaver trapping and dam removal, culvert installations, herbicide applications, seeding, and DNR/Army Corp. permit fees.  

During the public hearing, Don Nunamaker told the commissioners he is opposed to the rate increase saying there’s a surplus of $42 million of Marshall County government funds.

Merl Haines has a farm that sits in the middle of this watershed and is negatively impacted.  He told the commissioners he has tiles that are now underwater that weren’t that way years ago.  He suggested the drainage board work on the lower part of the drains.  He also said beavers and grass in the ditches are a big problem.  Mr. Haines is in favor of the rate increase.

Mike Heckaman is also in favor of the rate increase. He said that maintenance needs to be done and the cost of equipment and labor is constantly increasing. 

Bill Vories is also in favor of the rate increase.  He said he has a field that they farmed 20 years ago and now they can’t because of the water.

Chad Kaylor from Argos sent a letter because he works and can’t attend a meeting at 8:30 on a Monday morning.  He too suggests there’s lots of surplus money that could be used.   

The Marshall County Drainage Board approved the rate increase to $3 an acre with a minimum charge of $6.