Ample time to refine the Land Bank; 'No' on Prop. 1 | Lettes
October 30, 2011 · 8:29 PM
I totally support the Land Bank. It’s presence has enhanced all of our lives and certainly makes San Juan County an amazing place to live.
However, after reviewing the detail financial information it is clear to me that a .5 percent (half of the present tax) is totally adequate to maintain the current properties.
As the Land Bank Director has pointed out, there is money in reserve to pay the current debt. In addition, there are properties that could have permanent conservation easements placed on them with designated building envelopes that could be re-sold to help fund new acquisitions.
I have also encouraged the Land Bank group to consider requesting that our local representatives propose a change in the current RCW’s ruling the Land Bank's excise tax to allow counties (we're the only one it would affect) to exempt all primary residences at or below the “affordable housing” rate. This would have to be written clearly so there would be guidelines (i.e. the ones followed by local affordable housing groups) that could be followed to determine that amount annually.
It bothers me that the Land Bank board and the committee to renew the Land Bank’s current excise tax rate does not seem to value the contribution of local residents to this tax since it has been in place. It's huge.
I am one of those that have consulted on a lot of local real estate transactions since 1990, and I know there are a large number of sellers that either had to lower their price or actually pay the tax to close a sale. These “sellers” are almost all local residents. It would be nice if that was appreciated more by the Land Bank board.
Since the current levy doesn't expire until 2014, I encourage everyone to vote “No” this time and give it serious thought and study. We have plenty of time.
I know of no entity making financial commitments for the next 15 years at this time. And we can vote to increase it at any time if county residents consider that necessary.
San Juan Island