County working to eliminate backlog
I would like to offer another view regarding the recent editorial on the backlog of property tax appeals before the Board of Equalization.
Property owners deserve a timely resolution to their tax appeal. The county takes this seriously, and will continue to work to eliminate the waiting list while trying to keep tabs on limited county revenue.
During last year’s budget cycle, we heard from property owners about the time it took for their hearings to be held. County commissioners agreed that the backlog was unacceptable. We met with the assessor’s office and the Board of Equalization and agreed to aggressively work to eliminate that backlog.
A high priority to come out of that meeting was the hiring of additional staff to speed up the processing time, and we allocated funds for that.
The Board of Equalization also added hearing dates and increased the number of cases heard on those dates. As a result, the backlog has been significantly reduced.
We realize that the additional staff position has an end date of Dec. 31, but the hope is to eliminate most of the waiting list by then. We will consider this issue, as we do all budget issues, by weighing this spending priority with all of the programs and services valued by Thurston County residents.
SANDRA ROMERO; Thurston County Commissioner
Liquor initiative will cost state tax revenue
The Seattle Times’ recent editorial endorsing Initiative 1100, the liquor privatization initiative backed by Costco, contained a major factual error. I-1100 will not, as the Times claims, “replace all the revenue” from liquor sales, which currently contribute $330 million annually to fund vital services like health care, law enforcement and community programs.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Read the fine print. Initiative 1100 wipes out more than $230 million per year of the state’s revenues from liquor sales, replacing it only with a flat $1,000 licensing fee per outlet that will raise almost nothing.
The truth is that this initiative is deliberately designed to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars per year that pay for needed services for taxpayers, and transfers those funds to the pockets of Costco, Wal-Mart and the big grocery chains.
The initiative is also written in a way that will put smaller retailers, independent grocers and mom-and-pop small businesses at a huge competitive disadvantage to the big corporate chains. Do we really want to replace the current system with a Wal-Mart monopoly that will harm small businesses and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions in funding for schools and other services?
The Seattle Times needs to take a second look at this misguided initiative, rather than accepting the false claims of its proponents at face value.
JIM COOPER, Vice president of communications, Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention
Proposed incinerator plant makes no sense
My husband and I lived in Ruston, the north end of Tacoma, in the early 1980s. We lived just south of the ASARCO copper smelter.
Arsenic is a by-product of copper smelting, which you can’t see. The ASARCO folks told us to wash our vegetables (garden growers), but we did not grow vegetables. What we did do was build a greenhouse on the side of our home, not an unusual activity. With a pick and shovel, my husband removed soil from an area approximately 12 x 20 x 3 feet, breathing arsenic-filled soil.
We finally found out the level in his system was well over that allowed for employees in the plant working directly with the arsenic. He now has peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) and has a pacemaker to manage electrical system damage.
In addition to that, I lost a brother-in-law to mesothelioma about a year ago. Again, particulates (fiberglass) too small to see (less than 2.5 microns).
We live in Mason County because it has clean air and water (mostly). I just can’t see allowing an ADAGE incinerator, spewing particulates too small to see, to take that away from us. Why send our federal stimulus dollars to a French company (AREVA), partnered with a North Carolina company (Duke Energy of Hanford), incorporated in Maryland, who will sell the energy to California, and mostly getting relief from paying taxes other local businesses must pay?
Without the federal and state subsidies, this project makes no business sense. I just can’t see it.
ROSLYNNE REED; Potlatch