An ordinance to change the way the San Juan County Conservation District collects fees will have its "second touch" at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, July 30 and a public hearing August 6.
Currently the fee is $5 per parcel. A Washington Supreme Court decision ruled a flat fee per parcel is contrary to RCW 89.08.400(3) because there is no per acre amount as required by law. The proposed ordinance changes the fee to $5 per parcel plus 5 cents per acre. In other words, an owner of a 10-acre parcel would pay $5.50 rather than the current $5.
The text of the ordinance:
ORDINANCE AMENDING THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS CONSERVATION DISTRICT ASSESSMENT
The Washington Supreme Court held in Cary v. Mason County that a conservation district fee based as a flat fee is contrary to RCW 89.08.400(3) because there is no per acre amount as required by law.
The San Juan Islands Conservation District uses a flat rate fee that is similar to the fee examined in Cary v. Mason County, and such a fee needs to be modified to conform to the requirements of the statute and the court decision.
In November 2012 the Board of Supervisors of the San Juan Islands Conservation District convened a duly noticed public hearing for the purpose of examining its fee to be consistent with the decision in Cary v. Mason County and the ESHB 2567. The Board of Supervisors recommended that the fee be changed to a flat rate of $5.00 per parcel together with a per acre rate of $0.05 (five cents) per acre.
The County Council arranged for special notice of a public hearing to consider an amendment to chapter 3.36 of the San Juan County Code to provide an annual flat fee, plus a uniform annual rate per acre.
NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby ordained by the County Council of San Juan County, state of Washington, as follows:
San Juan County Code Section 3.36.050 and Ordinance 10-2005 Section 3 are amended to read as follows:
A fee shall be imposed annually on parcels benefited by the Conservation District, namely Category 4 lands; which fee shall assessed and imposed with the regular property taxes annually in the amount of five dollars ($5.00) per parcel and five cents ($0.05) per acre or any part thereof.
Section 2. Effective Date.
RCW 3.36.060 and Ordinance 10-2005, Section 6 and Ordinance 23-2010 shall be amended to read as follows:
3.36.060 Effective date. Collection of the fee assessment shall be made as part of the regular property tax levy and continue through the collection in the year 2020.