Restore timber levels would void Kulongoski 30% property tax hike

The Governor and the Task Force on Federal Forest Payments are agreeing on a set of recommendations designed to fix the declining county timber payments by both increasing timber harvesting and raising property taxes by 30%. The tax is most unnecessary because the large area of BLM land already set aside for timber use (WOPR), is available and just by harvesting 48% of this land would restore over 90% of the lost funding to counties.

There is absolutely no need for a massive property tax hike. Increasing property taxes in the middle of housing crisis will do nothing but push more homeowners out of their homes. More taxes will mean less jobs and less economic growth which already is afflicting rural Oregon. Higher taxes will make it worse.

Jason Williams
State Director
Taxpayer Association of Oregon

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Posted by at 05:40 | Posted in Measure 37 | 12 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Crawdude

    The property tax suggestion won’t pass anyhow. Whats his next idea? Sales Tax?

    These counties and the state have had 8 years to prepare for this eventuality, they chose to do nothing.

    Some of the counties were smart and used the finite funds to build infrastructure. The stupid ones used it to bloat the county government. I don’t see any reason why the state taxpayer, has to foot bad decisions of some counties elected officials.

    Reap the whirlwind.

  • NotYourDaddy

    The problem could be solved neatly by exempting the O&C Lands from the Northwest Forest Management Plan. The O&C Lands make up only ~4% of federal forest land in this area, so exempting those particular lands will not put the spotted owl or marbled murrelet at risk of extinction. There’s plenty of other habitat for them.

    The application of the Northwest Forest Management Plan to the O&C lands violates the O&C Lands Act of 1937. These lands were set aside for sustained yield timber harvesting by an Act of Congress in 1937, with 50% of the proceeds to go to the counties initially, going up to 75% after the federal government recouped it’s initial costs. (The 75% never happened, but the counties were able to sustain themselves on 50% for 60 years.)

    The constant legal battles engaged in by the environmentalists, based on the Northwest Forest Management Plan, have stymied most timber sales on the O&C lands over the last decade, leaving little timber revenue to sustain the counties. The federal government doesn’t need to provide subsidies to the O&C Counties. All it needs to do it abide by the law, which it has not done for the last 12 years.

    The federal government owns approximately 70% of the land in Josephine County today. That is land that would be on the tax rolls under ordinary circumstances. If the federal government doesn’t want to abide by its own laws, then it should turn the O&C land over to the counties and allow them to either sell it off or harvest the timber under their own auspices.

  • JB

    There are only a handful of organizations that are practicing monkey wrenching via the courts to overturn well thought out plans such as the northwest forest plan or the BLM plan revision. Focus should be turned to Oregon Wild, KS Wild, Umpqua Watersheds, Cascadia Wildlands. They are the ones crying when a timber sale is designed in conformance to these plans. Our representatives are appeasing these folks by promoting unsustainable thinning only programs that do not provide the economic return which the O&C lands are dedicated to by law. We have a tremendous resource in our forests that can provide. Lets manage it, and enjoy it

  • Jason W.

    This is one of those easy solutions that politicians just can’t muster the fortitude to enact.

  • Jerry

    If you don’t harvest the timber it will burn up in the next forest fire – so go ahead and take some. But not to save these counties, as they are woefully ill-equipped to function in the real world, but rather, to save the forest.

    • dean

      CD…the affected Counties might pass operating levies now that their gravy train has ended. If not, then they can free their jails, close their libraries, eliminate their police, and let their roads go to potholes. That way we get to have a great experiment that provides a unique opportunity for small government advocates to step up with your free market solutions to everything. I for one am burning up with anticipation.

      The sweetheart deal that had the former O&C lands, which were returned to the federal government because of massive private sector land fraud, giving 50% of timber revenue off the top (gross, not net) on sales was just as much a federal welfare program as was the payments in lieu of. Think about it. 50% off the top. Where does that sort of deal exist? And Counties provide near zero services to federal forest lands, whether O&C or Forest Service. These lands have no homes to protect, no kids to send to school, no or few County roads to maintain. They don’t need librairies, jails, sewers, water systems, and so forth. The forests are maintained and patrolled by federal officials paid for with federal tax dollars contributed by people all across the nation. Those federal officials for the most part own homes and pay property taxes locally like everyone else.

      And no…these forest lands would not contribute much of anything to the tax roles if they were converted to private land. That is because they would have timber tax defferal, meaning the land’s value, the trees, would not be taxed by Counties. Income tax would be paid to the state whenever a profit was made from harvesting timber, just like income tax is paid by those who buy and process the federal timber. But the underliying land value absent the trees is a pittance.

      Using the courts is not “monkey wrenching.” It is forcing federal officials to follow the law of the land. You might not like the law, and you might not like the decisions of the courts, but the groups that bring suit are playing well within the rules. They pays their money and takes their chances.

      No Jerry…trees left on the land are not all going to burn up in the next fire. Fire ecology is a complex issue, too complex for your simplistic world view. But ask yourself this. When the pioneers came over the Oregon Trail they found themselves in a land with the largest, oldest, and most extensive timber in North America. Yet there was no one here clearcut logging or putting out fires. The Native Americans who lived here SET FIRES year after year to maintain forest meadows, huckleberry patches, oak woodlands, pine savannas, and the prairie grasslands of the Willamette and Rogue River valleys. They cut a few trees, mostly cedar, to build lodges, canoes, implements, and for cooking and heat. Yet here was all this old growth forest. How could that be Jerry? Why didn’t the pioneers find a bunch of dead, rotting, burned out forests?

      • Crawdude

        Dean, I hope the do close the libraries and cut back on services used by the non-working public. If they choose to close the jails, that will be their choice. As an Oregon taxpayer, I don’t want my money used to prop up their bad decisions. As stated before, they’ve had 8 years to adjust to this eventuality. Some did, some didn’t, too bad!

        • dean

          CD…I agree with you on the last part. They need to pony up or deal with the consequences. The state should not bail them out.

  • Jerry

    Dean – cool down big fella. What I said is TRUE. The forests in Oregon right now are categorized as extreme fire danger due to the fact that we have been preventing the fires for so long. There is nothing simplistic about my view. My view is based on facts. We have so much fuel in the forests now that there is no hope of escaping massive forest fires for the forseeable future. Those trees will burn – you can count on it. I don’t know why you would argue with me on something so clear to all who care to look.

    If you don’t want to believe me you should read the latest issue of the National Geographic. I think they have a feel for what is going on. The forest danger map in that issue is red all over Oregon – redder than almost anywhere else in the nation. Red is for extreme forest fire danger and devastation.

    The reason the old growth survived in the past is clear to anyone. The fuels on the forest floor were routinely burned out by naturally occurring forest fires. Everyone knows this. Now we don’t allow them, so the fuel builds up and up. The trees in those regular fires routinely survived. Now they do not, due to the harshness of the fire due to the build up of the fuels.

    How hard is this to understand??

    I would think that you could figure this out with your background. I did not say the trees that were left would burn – I said the trees that are there now will burn, period, and they will.

    When man enters natures’ playing field he is seldom without a big disadvantage.

    • dean

      Jerry…okay…I’m cool. But what you describe is only TRUE for the dry forests in southern and eastern Oregon. It is not true for the western cascades and coast ranges. The O&C forests include both moist coastal types and dry southern oregon types (and some on the margins of the W Valley). Thinning in the dry types makes perfect sense as a fuel reduction strategy, but thinning produces lots of fine fuels that are left on the forest floor. They take 3-5 years to decompose, so in effect thinning increases fire hazard for a few years.

      Willamette Valley margin forests are a mixed bag. Where they have lots of hardwoods like maple and alder they are nearly fire proof.

      Forest floor fuels were not historically burned out in our moister forests. They accumulated, just as they do now. The fire cycle in our cool forests was 75-500 years depending on moisture regime.

      “Man” is not the problem. The Indians lived well with these forests for 10,000 years or more. Modern man on the other hand, still has a lot to learn.

  • Jerry

    Agreed. Thanks.

  • jason_watcher

    Not bad for a closet fag who lives in his parents basement, then beats off and prays about it. Too bad you are incapable of original thought and can only suck the teat of those who work their brains.

    Keep it up Dude! You’re definitely going places,

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