Clallam GOP to oppose real estate excise tax

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Republicans will oppose the real estate buyer’s excise tax in the Nov. 8 general election.

Members of the county GOP voted Monday to protest the measure as “a wasteful tax,” said county GOP Chairwoman Donna Buck.

Voters will decide if they will authorize Clallam County commissioners to collect a half of 1 percent toll on the sales of real property, paid by buyers.

The money would fund conservation of agricultural land by buying development rights on farms.

“We’re not totally against taxes,” Buck said Thursday, “but we see it as a wasteful tax.

“People stood up at the meeting and talked about the fact that money has been poured into this sort of thing, for so little land.”

In 2002, the county set aside $250,000 of timber revenue in a Conservation Futures Fund.

Last March, they spent it all, the interest it had earned, and another $60,000 to buy an agricultural easement on 44 acres in the Dungeness Valley.

Federal funds of $221,650 matched the county’s money. The purchase also included about $10,000 that some 600 private citizens had donated to the futures fund.

Total price of the easement paid to farmers Jerry and Mary Schmidt of Agnew was $567,899.

Hoh River valley concerns

Buck, wife of state 24th District Rep. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, said party members also fear the buyer’s excise tax would be used to tie up land in the Hoh River valley.

The area already is the target of a separate, private conservation effort opposed by property-rights activists.

Republican Women of Clallam County will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Secret Garden Cafe.

They will hear Sequim Realtor and property-rights advocate Steve Marble speak on the buyer’s excise tax. The meeting will be open to the public, she said.

Clallam County commissioners placed the excise tax on the Nov. 8 ballot after receiving more than 4,000 signatures on petitions circulated by Clallam Citizens for Food Security.

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