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No on land bank REET | Letter
Why is the land bank asking for a renewal this year when their funding does not expire for another two years? That is right: 2014! Voting no in this upcoming election does not mean you are against land preservation, because I certainly am not. Voting no will show that you are being a fiscally responsible citizen to your neighbors and friends.
The county is struggling with the current economic problems by cutting programs, positions and salaries. We do not know at this time what the next two years will bring. So while our funding is very tenuous, at best, the land bank is asking for us to commit for the next 16 years (2027).
I believe all organizations need to periodically evaluate what they are currently doing to make sure they are following their stated goals and mandates. I would like the land bank to take the next two years to do just that. Like many organizations that have had success in their primary mission, the land bank has begun to lose focus on conservation. It has strayed into commercial development and is competing with the struggling private sector. Check out the land bank mandate 16.54.010 purpose in their publications: land bank shall first consider conservation easements.
As an example, the land bank purchased 66 acres on San Juan Island for $545,000, made $106,000 of improvements, ($65,000 for a fence and the rest for utilities) and is now leasing it for $3,000 a month for 20 years. They are creating unfair competition between our farmers.
Join me in urging the land bank to adopt a shorter time period for renewal and strict adherence to their conservation mission by voting no on this current request for a 12-year taxing authorization.