Letters to the Editor

Land bank has sacrificed, too | Letter

In response to claims that the land bank has not sacrificed like other county departments over the past few years, one has only to look at its principal source of funding, the real estate excise tax (REET), paid by the buyers of real estate, to see that this is not true. Since 2007, the land bank’s 1 percent REET has declined roughly 60 percent! No other county department has faced revenue reductions anywhere near this magnitude.

The land bank has adapted to this new reality by slowing land acquisitions, accepting trail easement donations and finding funding partners to complete projects. Examples of the latter include a $486,000 grant from Ducks Unlimited to purchase a conservation easement on Beaverton Marsh in 2010 and helping to obtain $6 million in state funding to secure the 50-year leases on Lopez Hill and Odlin South at no additional cost to the county.

Moreover, the land bank has implemented the same cuts to salaries, plus furloughs, that other county employees have experienced. The land bank is efficient, keeping its administrative cost to just 6 percent of revenue over its history and managing its properties with minimal staffing supplemented by many volunteers. These cuts have been painful.

Despite our current economic struggles, the land bank continues to improve the quality of life of the citizens of San Juan County. It deserves our continued support. We all will benefit from its renewal.

Vote Yes on Proposition 1. Renew our land bank!

Gretchen Gubelman

San Juan Island

 

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