The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Commissioners OK 2020 budgets, address other issues


December 19, 2019

A short-handed Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners cruised through their pre-Christmas holiday meeting on Tuesday.

Commissioners approved resolutions for the county's 2020 budgets, increasing property taxes 1 percent, and acting on a variety of other business.

Commissioners also approved a resolution amending 2019 budgets to incorporate unanticipated revenues and expenditures.

Harvest of timber in the county produced some of the unanticipated revenue. Revenues from harvest of state-managed trust land totaled $1.5 million, $300,000 more than budgeted. Timber excises taxes from logging on private timberland exceeded the budgeted $300,000 by $192,000 for a total of $492,000.

All county budgets total approximately $27.6 million; revenues from the county's three largest property tax levies, Current Expense General Fund, Emergency Medical Services, and County Road, total approximately $1.3 million.

In other business, commissioners approved a letter of support for Columbia Land Trust (CLT), a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation and restoration of land, which is applying for grant funding to clean up land along Altoona/Pillar Rock Road at the mouth of Crooked Creek. A leaking fuel tank has contaminated soil, said CLT representative Austin Thomlinson, and the owner of the land, an elderly woman, lacks funds to conduct a cleanup herself.

CLT has purchased neighboring land that once was covered with junk vehicles and is cleaning that parcel, too, Thomlinson said.

Commissioner Mike Backman reported some Puget Island residents have suggested that Consolidated Diking District No. 1 add property outside the Island dikes to the district and collect assessments from them to help fund diking district operations.

The district derives its operating revenue from land inside the dikes; land outside the dikes isn't assessed.

"That would be a tough sell," commented Lee Tischer, a North Welcome Slough Road resident.

The district revenue comes from assessments, not property taxes, said Assessor Bill Coons, adding, "An assessment has to directly benefit the property which is assessed."

"It will go where it goes," Backman said of the proposal.

The board has cancelled the meeting it normally would have held next Tuesday, Dec. 24, and instead rescheduled it for Dec. 31.

Commission Chair Dan Cothren was excused from the meeting to attend a meeting of Solutions Table committee appointed by Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz to develop a timber management policy for state-managed forests incorporating goals and objectives of both timber harvest and environmental conservation.


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