EVERETT — Snohomish Conservation District programs for farms, forests and back yard gardens could get a financial boost, depending on a vote scheduled this week.
The conservation district stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval. The change would cost landowners in much of the county about $5 more per year, collected with the yearly tax bill. That’s roughly double what some pay now, though some would pay less.
A vote is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in council chambers.
“There’s been great support from everybody we’ve engaged with,” district manager Monte Marti said. “We’re excited to move it forward.”
Marti was among a dozen people, along with farmers and educators, who spoke in favor of the new rate at a Sept. 20 County Council meeting. The district’s board unanimously backed the move in April.
The conservation district works with urban and rural landowners to improve soil conditions, water quality and wildlife habitat. Until 2010, it received money from the county operating budget. When the recession pinched spending, the County Council authorized the assessment that’s in place now.
Currently, each property owner in the district pays a flat $5 per parcel, regardless of size, and then 5 cents per acre. Someone who owns five acres pays $5.25 per year.
The assessment provides more than $1 million per year. Grant dollars —federal, state, local and nonprofit— bring the district’s total annual budget to about $3.5 million.
Under the proposed system, the district would double the maximum rate to $10 per parcel and 10 cents per acre. That would be $10.50 per year on a 5-acre property.
Some landowners would see no increase, as the rates vary for different uses. A commercial property would be charged $9.81 per parcel and 9 cents per acre, forestland $2.94 per parcel and 1 cent per acre.
Another big change: The conservation district would start collecting fees from about 23,000 parcels within the Stillaguamish Clean Water District. The area had been excluded because it was receiving $200,000 per year in dedicated county funding, but that’s set to go away as part of a consolidation of the county’s stormwater utilities.
The new funding would help pay for programs to teach children about growing food, to work with farmers to be good environmental stewards and to help homeowners manage storm runoff.
The district covers unincorporated Snohomish County and areas that became part of cities after 1941. Three cities have annexed into the district: Arlington, Snohomish and Stanwood.
For more info on the rate proposal, visit www.snohomishcd.org/ratesandcharges.