Letters to the Editor

Cut realtors' commissions, not land bank tax | Letter

Dear Editor:

Wally Gudgell’s guest column in the Sounder, Oct 26 titled “No on Renewing Land Bank REET” is curious for a number of reasons. To begin with, he doesn’t say vote “no.” Is he playing both sides of the fence, or did the Sounder take liberties with his comments to shore up its own unfortunate stance?

Mr. Gudgell presents a hypothetical sale of $400,000 with a $4,000 REET followed by the comment: “30-40 percent of purchases are made by people who already live here so a significant portion of land bank funds are paid by San Juan County citizens.”

Is he suggesting the excise tax is unfair to SJC citizens and should be shouldered only by newcomers; that we locals shouldn’t have to contribute to the preservation of the place we make our home? And how many working-class citizens could afford a $400,000 property?

The less expensive properties the working class could afford, say $100 - 200,000, would have REETs ranging from $1- 2,000. I trust anyone resourceful enough to purchase a home would be resourceful enough to manage that amount.

I’m a blue-collar worker. I have paid the one percent REET twice and was happy to pay it. It’s the best use of my tax dollars I can imagine and I think it is perfectly suitable that development pay for preservation.

If I were to object to any fees, I would begin with the inflated real estate commissions that are six times higher than the excise tax - $24,000 on Mr. Gudgell’s $400,000 example and arguably also paid by the buyer. It’s even higher on commercial properties.

If Mr. Gudgell is sincere in his sympathies for local purchasers, “in an economy where every penny counts,” perhaps he could offer (and persuade his colleagues as well) to pay the REET from their commissions. So instead of collecting $24,000, they would only bank a paltry $20,000 for their efforts.

The land bank staff is to be applauded, as are the efforts of the citizens' group seeking early renewal. The last time we voted, we stood 73 percent behind them. Let’s go for 80 percent this time.

Charlie Carver



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