To the editor:

The Sauk River Watershed District was established in 1986 to enhance and protect watershed resources. The SRWD covers 1,042 square miles in Douglas, Pope, Todd, Stearns and Meeker counties. It’s directed by a group of eight or nine board managers who are appointed by the county commissioners. There is also a staff of six employees with an office in Sauk Centre. Funding is collected through property taxes, levies and special assessments.

Randy Newman, a Todd County commissioner, contacted local township boards and asked they attend the watershed’s monthly meeting. He expressed some concerns about the fiscal responsibility of the board managers. Since I am a member of the West Union Township Board, I decided to attend.

One thing they discussed was the sediment pond in Sauk River between Smith and Osakis lakes. It was just cleaned this year, and an employee of the watershed recommended adding new carp gates to the inlet and outlet of the sediment pond. It would cost approximately $200,000 to $300,000. Secondly, they discussed buying a new lot and putting up a new office building estimated to cost $1.9 million. Lastly, they discussed raising the per diem from $75 to $125.

All of these expenditures were approved with little apprehension or discussion of alternatives. As a township supervisor, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to make fiscally responsible and effective decisions in the best interest of the taxpayer. I do not feel all of the board managers had a clear understanding of the projects. There was also very limited discussion on the cost or alternate solutions. After seeing how the board makes decisions, I feel some new people on the board would be a nice change. If you are in the Sauk River Watershed, you are a steward of the SRWD and you can contact your county commissioner and ask to be appointed.

Tom Miller

West Union, MN