Who should pay for ditches?: Board learns of efforts to learn who benefits

Staff Writer

The Morrison County Board of Commissioners got a crash course on ditch redetermination after some property owners on Morrison County ditch one near Camp Ripley said they were paying to maintain a ditch that benefits many more people.

At Tuesday’s planning meeting, the Board discussed the process of ditch viewing and redetermination with engineer Ron Rinquist.

He and his company go out and look at who benefits from a ditch in a given watershed, such as a property where the ditch is an outlet for bodies of water on the property, and what impact these benefits have on the ditch.

They also determine the value of benefits those property owners get from the ditch.

“It’s a determination of benefits and damages,” Rinquist said. “It’s very difficult to say you got zero benefits from a ditch when your water gets to the ditch.”

Every parcel is divided into one of the property categories benefitting from a ditch, Rinquist said.

He said while people who never paid before may be assessed for a portion of the cost to repair the ditch, there is a benefit.

Those property owners are no longer liable for any damage done to the ditch and someone else’s property, Rinquist said.

Commissioner Jeffrey Jelinski asked if a board could refuse a recommendation after ditch viewers determined who is benefitting from the ditch.

Rinquist said they could, but one of the property owners who is currently assessed could appeal the decision if the ditch viewers determined other property owners benefitted from the ditch.

Commissioner Mike LeMieur said if the Board wouldn’t want everyone who benefits from the ditches to pay, they wouldn’t bother with sending out viewers.

For now, the county doesn’t have immediate plans to order a ditch redetermination from Rinquist.

The county will send Rinquist information on the area around ditch one to get an idea of how much redetermination could cost.