Otter Lake landowners to pay maintenance tax

The Houghton County Board of  Commissioners met to discuss an assement to the 91 properties on Otter Lake.

It was approved 4-1 for a 70% assessment to the properties to help pay for future maintenance. Houghton County and Portage Township will pay the remaining 30%.

“I did quite a bit of research with other drain commissioners, how they handle lake assessment districts,” Houghton County Drain Commissioner John Pekkala said. “And they’re all over the board, but nobody is, that I found, higher than 30% for the local government share, meaning, township and county totals don’t total more than 30%.”

Residents on the lake voiced their opinion at the meeting saying that they shouldn’t be taxed and that there is no benefit to having the dam on the lake. “Without the dam, the water would drop up to four to five feet during the summer, and during a heavy rain event, the water would come up, it would backflow from the Sturgeon (River) and raise the lake,” one resident said.

This is a one-time tax that will be assesed to the property owners, but Pekkala says there may be other tax assements in the future.

“As we incur costs in the future, we’ll have to recoup those costs and have to assess again,” Pekkala said. “We did already spend extra monies beyond what we spent on setting up this district, and those were for the replacement of the stoplogs on the Otter Lake Dam.”

To change lake levels in the dam, the landowners have to have a two-thirds vote to bring to Circiut Court to have the change made.