Environmental Fixes Too Costlyby Maxine Keesling
Reader's Views, Capital Press - February 15, 2002
Despite taxpayers' anti-tax sentiments, the Washington Legislature is replete with bills to enable counties to increase their taxing sources.
One bill would authorize counties to increase their conservation tax levy against all taxable property by 92 percent. The conservation tax in King County is largely used for buying and/or back-to-naturing fish habitat. That's on top of the recently increased surface water management fee that went from $85 to $102 per tax parcel and a $5/parcel conservation district charge.
Another bill would authorize counties to add an additional excise tax on the sale of all real estate to provide affordable housing. At the stated .5 percent of the sales price, counties would reap $1,500 on the sale of a $300,000 home, the escalated value of which is greatly due to government regulations that decrease land supply and raise development costs.
And then there's the bill to enable counties to collect utilities taxes, which are perpetual taxes that never have to be renewed. King County executive Ron Sims says they're necessary "to provide for adults and their children who would like to play on parks and playfields." But they, too, could be added to environmental spending.
The costs of preserving and restoring the environment, if not curtailed, will eventually break us. And for what? The American Fisheries Society has been quoted as saying that habitat restoration is an extremely expensive, long-term and relatively unproved procedure. Certainly habitat restoration isn't the reason for this year's record fish returns, which scientists have credited to fish-harvest controls and good ocean conditions.
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