Commissioners also passed resolutions setting property tax collection rates for the year and met with landowners and commissioners of Consolidated Diking District No. 1 to discuss drainage issues on Puget Island.
Overall, the tax levy will collect $166,641.10 less than last year because of a decline in property values.
However, land owners in some areas will see their tax bills rise. Some levies such as special school levies and building bonds collect set amounts of money, so the assessment can rise or fall to collect that assessment.
The impact will be minimized in 2014, he said, when the county moves to an annual revaluation system. Currently, the assessor appraises approximately one quarter of the county each year for a four-year rotation.
Public agencies with taxing authority may increase their collections 1 percent per year without going to voters. The county chose not to do so, Coons said, but most other entities did take the increase. Consolidated Diking District increased its assessment for land inside the Puget Island dikes from $3 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4 per thousand, he said; diking commissioners said they were running short of operating revenue and needed to construct an equipment shop.
Commissioners planned to meet later this month with representatives of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss plans to address erosion of the Steamboat Slough Dike.
Last week, commissioner declined to support a Corps plan to build a new dike setback from the shoreline and to turn 200 acres of the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge into wetlands by breaching the dike in three places.
Commissioners said they wanted to minimize the breaches and maintain public access to shoreline; they also asked that the setback dike be constructed to accommodate vehicle traffic.
Although Corps officials said the salmon habitat recovery funding they would use for the project doesn't allow that kind of construction, the county commissioners asked that the dike be built to that standard.
On Tuesday afternoon, commissioners held an executive session to discuss possible legal action over the situation; they took no action when they came into open session.
Shari Hildreth, a representative of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Butler attended; she will try to get everyone back to the table on January 25.
Puget Island drainage issues were the topic of a workshop involving Consolidated Diking District Commissioners Philip Vik and Michael Phelan.
Two landowners described drainage issues about which the diking district hasn't been able to aid them.
One said he and his neighbors on land subdivided from an old dairy farm had no access to a drain ditch; they had to finance ditch work on their own. Another said a neighbor had filled in a ditch and now their property drained very poorly.
Vik said ditches had been laid out in the 1950s when much of the land was large farms; now the dedicated ditches don't reach all new subdivided properties. The new properties don't have covenants to provide for drainage; the district furnishes real estate agents a letter to inform people purchasing land inside the dike of the potential drainage problems.
Vik said the diking district commission has all the ditches it can maintain.
"We're not set up to handle all these things," he said. "We don't want to take responsibility for each ditch and overwhelm ourselves."
County Permit Coordinator and Planning Supervisor Chuck Beyer said there are no provisions for drainage in the county's short plat ordinance. Drainage is considered only if it is identified as a concern.
County commissioners suggested the landowners could work with the diking district and consult with diking district attorney and county prosecuting attorney to see what could be done about the situations.