Haugen proposes property tax to spare state parks
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
March 18, 2009 · 10:53 AM
With Fort Ebey and Fort Casey state parks targeted for possible mothballing, a local politician is looking for a way to increase funding.
State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, sponsored legislation this month for a 1 cent per thousand property tax assessment statewide. For a $300,000 home, the cost would be $3.
If the tax eventually becomes law, Haugen said Washington State Parks probably won’t have to worry about funding and budget cuts. She said it would bring in approximately $12 million per biennium.
She said that even though people are leery about property tax increases, something drastic has to be done to improve parks funding.
Earlier this year, the parks system came up with approximately $10 million in possible cuts that included transferring ownership or closing 13 state parks. Then the Legislature asked for a list with $13 million in additional cuts. That request placed Fort Ebey and Fort Casey state parks on a “mothball” list.
Haugen said islanders concerned about the tax increase should consider the relationship between state parks and home values. One factor in the favorable home values on Whidbey Island is the number of state parks located in the area.
Her bill, which is co-sponsored by senators Dan Swecker and Karen Fraser, is currently in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Because it would require amending the state constitution, the proposal would also have to be approved by the voters, which would happen during the next general election, assuming it gets through the Legislature this spring.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.