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Vote 'no' on Land Bank renewal | Letter
The Land Bank (LB) gained approval in 1990. Their basic mission statement/selling point was preserving open space. Their mission has digressed. Ratherthan focusing on their core mission of preserving open space, the LB has become entangled in “urban” projects. They’re now engaged in property development that competes with the struggling private sector in land sales. They’re using excise tax resources for infrastructure improvements, public use facilities and conservation land to subsidize commercial agriculture.
Over 50 percent of San Juan County has exempt or reduced property taxes. The LB has exempted 3,580 acres. As they remove more from the tax base something has to give. Either rates on the remaining base have to increase or income for government services is reduced. We’re already experiencing layoffs and cuts to school programs. Existing LB authorization expires in 2014. They are asking for a 12 year extension although 2 years of the current authorization remain.
Daily we read about trouble with the economy. Rather than a premature extension of the tax, it’s time for a much needed public discussion about the length of the funding window, the management of LB holdings, and the focus of its mission. Vote no and start the dialog.
Argument Prepared by
Committee Opposing Land Bank Initiative:
Ron Whalen, San Juan Island
Cherie Sarrett, San Juan Island
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