Last year the voters of Ferndale overwhelming rejected a massive tax increase for new capital projects for public schools. The voters did approve to tax themselves for a new library in 2012 and to increase their sales tax for road improvements through a special taxing mechanism called, Transportation Benefit District. Special Tax Districts allow people and political leaders to cherry pick what are the most favorable areas to ask voters to approve establishment of a new special tax district with taxing authority. Why is that a problem? Well, they do not apply a ceiling to the amount of taxes that accumulate, elected officials can legislatively move money from one special fund into another based on their legislative authority, as was recently done by the Whatcom County Council when they set up a Parks Special Revenue fund with tax dollars taken from the Conservation Futures Funds (funds which the voters of Whatcom County approved specifically for the purchase of private land for public use), and they are often the vehicle used to incrementally expand their ability to tax as they broaden the taxing district boundaries, using the same type of selective cherry-picking for voters to vote to approve their inclusion within the special taxing district. It’s the slow, drip-drip-drip …Read More »
Last Tuesday’s Council meeting was full of important issues. As many of you likely remember, with all of the hoopla over the Council taking over 8,800 acres of forested land in the Lake Whatcom watershed there was the discovery that the funds loaned from the Conservation Futures Fund (CFF) to purchase the Lily Point property had not been paid back. These funds were loaned specifically for the Lily Point purchase while the County waited for the Federal grant money (which had been approved) to be made available to them. It was written in the contract that the money loaned from CFF would be returned to CFF once the Federal money was received. Fast forward again, the discovery was made public and brought to the attention of the state auditors who found that: “The Council may choose to legally authorize to keep the money in the Parks Improvement Fund, or to return it to the Conservation Futures Fund as the contract subscribed. The Council then voted 0-6 to return the money to CFF.” Resolution designating the Parks Improvement Fund to receive grant proceeds generated by the purchase of the Lily Point Marine Park (AB2013-050) Failed 0-6 Fast forward some more, the …Read More »
Chuckanut Forest on track for permanent Conservation Easement…is that what the tax payers voted for?
Whatcom County currently holds the title for the largest amount of park land in Washington State. Whatcom County leads in the amount of publicly owned parks and is home to thirty-six County Parks. Many of the counties parks currently are undeveloped and under maintained, due to the high costs and low financial returns that are common in counties that are predominate for recreation dollars. Parks are a great place to spend time with family and friends, but the per capita fiscal benefit of a service economy is hard pressed to compete with production, manufacturing and technology businesses and wages. So, what are we doing in Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham? Working to create more parks and connectors to parks. Delaine Clizbe is a recreational enthusiast who utilizes many of Whatcom County’s many public parks. Delaine also has the sense that Whatcom County has enough park land to meet the needs of the resident population for the next century, given the fact that Whatcom County already has eight times more park land than any other county in the State of Washington. There are 13 National Parks in Washington, 141 State Parks in Washington, there are 36 County Parks in Whatcom County alone. You do …Read More »
Last week the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) met to make a determination to approve, or disapprove, Whatcom County’s request to Reconvey the 8,800 acres of Lake Whatcom Resources Lands back under the management of Whatcom County. The DNR approved this action based largely upon the statements encapsulated here: I am sorry to say that your vote on the Reconveyance did matter, even though you say it would have passed no matter how you voted. It might have not passed today at the BNR Meeting in Olympia, but they said it passed our County Council by a Super Majority Vote. So they felt they had to go along with the County Council wishes, even though some on the Board of Natural Resources had miss-giving’s about approving the Reconveyance. Tom DeLuca, Director School of Environmental & Forestry Sciences, College of the Environment, University of Washington, Vice Chair of the Board of Natural Resources, questioned the whole ethics and voted NO. The Honorable F. Lee Grose, Lewis County Commissioner, Chehalis, Washington Board Member of Natural Resources, questioned the whole ethics and then voted Yes only because a SUPER Majority of the Whatcom County Council voted for the Reconveyance. (Commissioner Grose is on …Read More »