The Skagit Conservation District submitted a tax request Thursday to the Skagit County Board of Commissioners to help pay for the district’s services.

The request proposes that property owners pay $5 per parcel, owners of agricultural-natural resources land pay $1 per parcel, and forest land owners pay $3 per parcel.

That would generate $273,970 a year for services including urban and rural forestry, education and outreach, and technical assistance to landowners for natural resources management, according to the district.

The district is pursuing the request due to a loss in state funding that has impacted its level of service and staff hours, Skagit Conservation District Manager Bill Blake said.

A public hearing is scheduled for September before commissioners vote on the proposal. Blake said the tax may be adjusted.

The district had originally considered asking for $5 for all parcels, and an additional charge of 10 cents per acre.

Blake said the district board’s recommendation was to drop the per acre charge for all land uses, and lower the charge for agricultural parcels.

The district adjusted the proposal following conversations with farmers concerned about duplication of services already provided by drainage, irrigation and dike districts, he said.

If approved, the modified request will bring in about $36,000 less than what the district has originally considered requesting, according to the district.

“(The money) will help us at least maintain programs and bring a forester on, which is really key, with 60 percent of the county being forest,” Blake said.

Blake said the funds will also help the district implement a voluntary steward program, which is focused on helping farmers protect critical areas on their properties.

If approved, the tax will go into effect in 2020. The tax would expire after five years unless it is renewed, according to the filing.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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