After spending more than five years planning - and millions of dollars - steps are now being taken to shut down the Central Lakes Region Sanitary District.
At its monthly meeting Thursday evening, the CLRSD board voted unanimously to start "winding down" the district, which for months has been mired in controversy over its proposed multimillion-dollar sewer project.
Since December, five of the six Douglas County townships originally included in CLRSD have left the district, with the latest two - LaGrand and Moe Townships - voting last Monday to withdraw.
CLRSD board members approved the motion to begin the process of closing down after learning Thursday that area state lawmakers are working on legislation to dissolve the district entirely.
Before supporting the measure, board member Lynn Timm, who represents Carlos Township, said she thought terminating the district was a mistake.
"Although the CLRSD and its board members have been discredited to the point that dissolution appears inevitable," Timm said, "the district remains a great management structure for wastewater infrastructure of any type.
"It is shameful that we are being forced to throw this opportunity away."
Dale Vollmers, Leaf Valley's CLRSD board representative, said given the large public outcry against the district's proposed sewer system, it is time CLRSD step aside.
"Obviously we came up with a plan that was too expensive and not workable with the environment of our community here," Vollmers said.
Questions remain about the sanitary district's future.
Filling in Thursday as board counsel for John Kolb, the CLRSD's regular attorney, Tim Sime said he didn't know how long it would take for the district to be shut down, or how much money local taxpayers will be on the hook for once it does.
CLRSD General Manager Patrick Conroy declined to comment.
Financial statements dated last Wednesday show the district's total liabilities to be about $3.38 million, while counting roughly $1.92 million in assets.
Only about $303,000 of those assets is in cash, with the rest tied up in land, easements and construction.