ACTION: Support Thurston County Board of Commissioners Rates and Charges proposal

Thurston Conservation District Needs Your Support

Thurston Conservation District (you will recall we got involved with the election a couple months back)  is exploring the option to establish a system of “Rates and Charges”. The info below came from Commissioner Paul Picket, who was endorsed by Olympia Indivisible.

ACTION: Support Thurston County Board of Commissioners Rates and Charges proposal.

Attend public hearing and testify on Thursday May 10, 6 – 8 p.m.

Thurston CD Rates and Charges Hearing

Thurston Conservation District

2918 Ferguson St SW, Ste A,

Tumwater, Washington 98512

Write the Thurston CD Supervisors

Write the Thurston County Commissioners

Here’s the lowdown from Paul:

Thurston Conservation District is exploring the option to establish a system of “Rates and Charges”. Many Thurston County citizens have questions about this process. Here are a few “Frequently Asked Questions” to help explain the process.

What are Rates and Charges?

Rates and Charges (R&C) are a District-wide fee levied on properties to support Thurston CD work. It’s like a property tax assessment, except instead of being based on the value of your property, it’s typically a flat fee per parcel and per acre based on land use. One possible Thurston CD proposal is for an R&C of $5/parcel and $0.10 per acre, which would generate revenues of around $600,000 per year. R&C could be in place for up to 10 years. Many of Washington’s Conservation Districts are using R&C to support their work.

Why does Thurston CD need R&C?
R&C provides a stable source of funding for Thurston CD. The funds will go towards their core work, such as water quality and quantity, protecting and restoring ecosystems, preserving working lands, property stewardship, supporting local food, building climate resilience, community outreach and education, and operations. This funding will provide about one-third of Thurston CD’s budget, the rest provided mostly by state and federal grants. R&C funding also leverages additional grants by providing local matching dollars and capacity for grant writing.

Is this new? What did Thurston CD use in the past?
Thurston CD has had a property tax assessment since 1993, and for the last 10 years it provided a similar percentage of revenue. In 2017, Thurston CD chose R&C instead of a property tax. (The legislature provided the R&C process as an alternative due to legal challenges over the fairness of a property tax for CD work.) Thurston CD’s attempts to establish R&C last year were unsuccessful when they missed critical deadlines, and the tax assessment for Thurston CD expired at the end of 2017.

What happens to Thurston CD without R&C?
In 2018, Thurston CD stabilized its budget by using carry-over funding from 2017 and delaying the hire of several vacant positions, including Executive Director. The budget shortfall has resulted in cutting back programs such as salmon recovery, stormwater treatment, low-impact development, forest management, support for local agriculture, technical support, and outreach and K-12 education. The absence of R&C in 2019 will result in deeper cuts and additional reductions and loss of services.

What is the process for Thurston CD to establish R&C in 2019:

• May 10, 6-8 p.m.: Public hearing on proposed Thurston CD Rates and Charges, Thurston Conservation District, 2918 Ferguson St SW Suite A, Tumwater
• May 29: Vote on R&C proposal at the Thurston CD Board meeting
• August 1: Deadline to submit R&C package to Thurston County Commissioners, who must approve the package.
There are other deadlines for hearings and actions that must be met for Rates and Charges to be in place by 2019.

What can you do to support Thurston CD’s Rates and Charges?
Since both the Thurston CD Board of Supervisors and the Thurston County Board of Commissioners must approve R&C, it is critically important they hear from you that you value Thurston CD and support their Rates and Charges proposal.

More on Thurston CD’s Rates and Charges: https://www. thurstoncd.com/rates-and- charges/