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Boathouse Bay, Truth In Taxation And Proposed City Budget Dominate Silver Bay Council Meeting

The Silver Bay council chamber was packed last Monday night. The main topics of the evening were the adoption of the plan between the city and John Anderson to devel­op Boathouse Bay, the annual Truth In Tax­ation presentation, and an overview of the proposed budget for 2024.

David Drown, Silver Bay Economic Devel­opment Director, was on hand to review the history of the Boathouse project and explain the many steps that have been taken over the last two years to actually get the project up and running. Readers may remember that the development is slated to have 55 dwellings, some of which will be for sale, while others will be available as short-term vacation rental units. The plan includes space for the construction of 110 storage units and some open green space for public use. The overall cost of the project to the developer will be in the neighborhood of $23 million.

One of the many resolutions that the Coun­cil passed on Monday night allows for the Boathouse Bay property to be designated as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. This designation allows the City to capture property taxes specifically from the develop­ment and put those funds into building util­ity services like water and sewer, which the city will own. A public hearing on this issue was held back in July and essentially, the TIF designation takes any financial pressure for the development off of Silver Bay taxpay­ers. The agreement between Johnson and the City is that the Boathouse Bay project will be complete within five years and includes year­ly targeted construction goals. Drown stated that the TIF will last for nine years and that the debt should be fully paid, by the develop­er, in eight years.

It is hoped that the development will help provide needed space to accommodate tour­ists who come to Silver Bay to enjoy the many features that the area offers. A few attendees expressed concern over how the development may affect the city and one resident wanted to know when the public will see movement on addressing the need for affordable housing. Mayor Wade LeBlanc assured everyone that the Council is working on the affordable housing issue and said that city leaders believe that the Boathouse Bay development, which will generate tax revenue for the city, will hopefully make it so that there is less property tax burden on city residents.

The Council voted to accept all of the res­olutions related to Boathouse Bay which moves the project from being on paper to being a reality. Developer Anderson thanked the council and the citizens of Silver Bay and said that he believes the development will be an exciting addition to the community.

Greg Swartwoudt, from the Lake County Tax Assessor’s office, was on hand to answer questions about people’s property taxes. A number of residents in attendance at Mon­day night’s meeting were concerned about an increase in their property tax assessment. In open discussion, the point was raised that properties in Silver Bay have been underval­ued in comparison with other Lake County communities. This accounts for the increases. Residents need to understand that if they have concerns about their assessment, they need to contact the County Tax office in the Spring and that they might be eligible for a property tax refund. Information about all of this is available on the assessment form that resi­dents receive with their assessment. Swart­woudt and several residents left the Council meeting to talk about specific concerns that folks had about their assessments. If readers have concerns about their assessments, they should call the Lake County Tax Assessor at 218-834-8313.

Lana Fralich, Silver Bay City Administra­tor, presented the amended and certified proposed levy for 2024. The amended proposed expense budget for 2024 totals $33,079,905. This amount is admittedly large for a city the size of Silver Bay. That total includes grants that the City receives for improvement projects that are a part of the total budget but do not add to assessed taxes. Public Safety and Public Works each make up 33% of the general expenditures budget with administration, General Expenses (Municipal building, Legal, Street Lights, Cable), and the Golf Course totaling 13%, 8%, and 4% of general expenses respectively. The City’s tax rate has decreased over the last three years. In Octo­ber, the Council adopted the proposed levy in the amount of $1,719,695. That amount has been amended to $1,673,495. If residents want to look at the Budget Draft Summary, they should contact the City office. Budget summaries are published in accordance with State law, at the end of January.

In other business, the public should know that there will be a public meeting held on December 13th at 6:00 concerning the 2024 CSAH Road and Utility Improvement. The meeting will be held at the Reunion Hall. The Lake County Sex Trafficking Task Force Candlelight Vigil will be held on January 8th from 4:30 to 5:30 at the Lake County Law Enforcement Center. The public is invited to take part. Finally, Josh Aldinger is resign­ing from the Fire Department after 17 years of service. The Council expressed thanks to Josh for his service to the community.

The next Silver Bay Council meeting will be held on December 18th at 7:00.

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Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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