The Thurston Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) had a public hearing on Tuesday, January 10, about the proposed rates and charges to homeowners in Pattison Lake Management District No. 23.
The meeting was held to hear objections to the proposed Roll of Rates and Charges for the parcels located in the district.
Pattison Lake Management District No. 23e was created recently by Ordinance no. 15345 on November 22 last year.
Water Resource Manager Tim Wilson first briefed the public about the background information.
“A roll of rates and charges for the new district was prepared, which lists charges for each parcel within the district boundaries,” Wilson said.
“Rates used to calculate these charges were initially submitted to the board by petition from property owners and were the subject of a public hearing held July 26, 2022,” Wilson added.
The proposed rates were also included on ballot papers provided to property owners, along with the proposed charges on their parcels.
“The public hearing is limited to considering written objections to charges improperly or incorrectly assigned to individual parcels,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that only seven comments were submitted on or before the January 5 deadline, and one additional comment, was also forwarded to the board.
The commission stated that objections not submitted in writing prior to the hearing shall be considered waived.
One landowner, John Garrett, shared that he worked 35 years with Fish and Wildlife and has a background as a biologist and land manager. “I was on the initial steering committee, but I stepped down when they started coming up with these criteria for establishing the assessments,” Garrett shared.
“My family has owned the property I live on, Lake Pattison, for 73 years. And this whole process is my fault. I talked to people and asked them if they'd like to improve the environmental quality of the lake– which I fully support,” Garrett said.
Garrett detailed how his lakeside neighbors asked him, when he was still part of the committee, about when a public hearing will be held to discuss the proposals.
“These assessments, in my mind, are not fair and equitable. And there was no transparency. I submitted questions to all three commissioners and Tim Wilson, and I still haven't received answers,” Garrett added.
Garrett also pointed out the potential conflict of interest with the steering committee members, who also benefited from the discounts given to landowners.
“Property owners that own more than one residence on their parcel were given a 75% discount for the second home. Three out of six people own a second residence on their property. Oh, is that a conflict of interest? I think so,” Garrett said, referring to the six steering committee members.
Garrett’s testimony was cut off after he reached the 3-minute limit per person, and the commissioners indicated that his written testimony was on file.
Another attendee, identified only as Robert, expressed concern about how the taxes should be utilized.
“We that live on the lake are taxed higher on that property than any other property that's not lakefront. This extra tax that we are paying should be the one we pay for whatever needs to be done to keep the lake clean and to clear it up,” Robert raised.
Robert continued about how the maintenance should be the county's problem, not the lake property owners’ problem.
“After all, we're paying extra taxes, and those taxes should go for the cleaning of the lake and so forth. They said one time they don't have the money for it. That's not our problem. The money should be there through our taxation,” Robert added.
Another attendee, identified as Ron, expressed that he wants to know more about how the proposed charges can go on after he allegedly heard about a lawsuit on the actual vote that was taken by the owners.
“I don't see how this process can move forward until things are adjudicated appropriately. And that lawsuit seemed like someone suddenly bailed out the board in this process,” Ron said.
“I'm not quite sure that I've found anyone who's defined the scope, the monetary needs, the finances. I also don't see a timeline,” Ron commented. “I don't see the overall costs of this whole venture.”
The public is invited to attend these public hearing sessions and present oral and written comments. All objections were required to be in writing and include clear grounds for objection.
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