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Cost in lost resources likely tremendous | Letters
I served as your county commissioner because I cared not just about today, but about the long-term future of our islands and their people.
There is no future without crop-yielding farms, food and oxygen producing oceans and forests and clean and plentiful water.
Over and over again, you made it clear that you place a high value on preserving these life sustaining necessities, which is why our legislators gave counties a tool to set conservation lands aside with the Conservation Futures Fund program.
In Island County this program began with Republican commissioners in 1991 and was supported by every board of county commissioners since, only one of which has been led by Democrats.
Not only has it remained in place, it has been increased on average 1 percent per year.
The fund is provided through a very small property tax, assessed exclusively for conservation purposes. It costs the average property owner in Island County about $12.50 per year or $1.04 each month.
It currently raises about $680,000 annually, a modest amount when considering land purchase.
Dismissing the visionary planning desires of the populace and under the guise of “tax cuts,” Tea Party Commissioner Kelly Emerson has been hell bent on demolishing this fund since she took office.
Commissioner Jill Johnson has now joined this crusade in support of a halt on further preservation acquisitions and a one-third assessment reduction.
These two commissioners are opposing sound judgments of their own party and our community’s long-standing preservation values.
Their proposed reduction would save the average property owner a whopping 35 cents a month.
What it would cost in lost resources is priceless.
The conservation fund typically provides the foundational dollars required to obtain match funding from other sources, without which we could never locally raise the money needed to set these lands aside.
Reducing this tiny fund is shortsighted, fiscally irresponsible and unjust to future generations.
Tell our county commissioners that you support having your conservation dollars applied where they count, toward the future.
Together our small contributions yield generational dividends.