May 24, 1999
The county budget should focus on fairness for county rural areas, as well as tightening spending.
The burden of the Smart Growth Strategy and various salmon plans falls mainly on those with downsized acreage. Not only are owners of five acres forbidden to split off an acre for sale as previously allowed, but they can't clear brush for pastures because of salmon habitat preservation.
And those who own legally-created rural lots smaller than five acres are threatened by various strategies to prohibit building permits in the interest of "preserving rural character."
Since rural landowners' taxes on homes on downsized acreages are much higher than similar homes on city lots, and since rural landowners are forbidden traditional uses of their acreage, it would be fair to lower the tax rate in rural areas. Then those who provide the open space and salmon habitat for the city folks would not be paying more taxes than city folks.
As to tightening spending, a recent news article described $20,000 in county water-quality grant money being spent for a boardwalk through a "rare sphagnum peat bog" on private property. How is water quality improved by a boardwalk through a bog?
Meanwhile, it would be money well spent to buy back salvage rights to the two miles of railroad tracks for a trolley connection between Lake Sammamish State Park and nearby businesses to Issaquah. Traffic congestion and exhaust emissions affecting park users would thereby be ameliorated.
Maxine Keesling, Woodinville