MailboxWhy a new tax?

Dear Editor:

I have a huge concern over the Methow Valley Recreation District. This district is proposed under RCW 35.61, which deals with Metropolitan Park Districts. A Metropolitan Park District would be greatly unfair to property owners in School District 350. Here’s why:

• Adding a new property tax makes your real estate harder to sell. Most folks think we pay enough property tax already.
• It’s hard to imagine a property owner at the end of the Twisp or Methow rivers having any benefit from paying for the Twisp pool or the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink. Therefore, those folks who use the rink or pool should pay for it.
• This district will have five new commissioners, and the right to condemn your property through eminent domain. Can you imagine being forced into having a sports trail running through your property when you don’t want it?
• This district is going to be expensive. The commissioners are each allowed up to $8,640 per year as compensation. If they manage an event which caters to kids or vulnerable adults the commissioners will have to fingerprint, background check, investigate and keep records on anybody working on the event. The increase in bureaucracy this district causes will be large, expensive and probably not necessary. What’s wrong with the way things are right now?
• This district would have the authority to levy 75 cents on every $1,000 of assessed valuation in Methow Valley School District 350. That comes out to $958,000 per year according to the Okanogan County assessor!

There are a lot of things to question regarding us being a “Metropolitan Park District.” This law normally applies to areas over 100,000 in population, or more than double the population of our whole county. It seems to me this proposal is way over the top, but please don’t take my word for it. Read RCW 35.61 (it’s not too long) and make up your own mind.

Ron Perrow, Winthrop

Keep cougars away

Dear Editor:

Mike Kutz makes a couple points (Jan. 22) that I don’t think are valid in his letter about cougars. He says the reason people moved here “most will agree, is wild natural beauty, which includes cougars.” While most of us are drawn to the valley by natural beauty, I think most of us don’t want cougars threatening our pets and livestock. (Perhaps Mike has neither pets nor livestock.)

Cougars are fine (as are wolves), just keep them in the wilderness where they belong! The presence of these predators certainly doesn’t enrich my wilderness experience! In the same issue, Cal Treser with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife traces increased human/cougar interactions to the 1996 initiative that made it illegal to hunt cougars with dogs. It will probably take a dead child or two, but maybe eventually our less-than-enlightened voting public will bring dogs back for hunting cougars. (Maybe not, as I never get the sense Washington’s voters are very logical!)

If the presence of large carnivorous predators makes Mike Kutz happy, he has the “choice” to move to Alaska where he can interact with lots of them!

Rick Todd, Winthrop/Ferndale

About those bullets

Dear Editor:

While I’m impressed by Ward Hartzell’s independent spirit and his acknowledgement of the excellent job the folks in the Okanogan County government have been doing (Jan. 22), I lost the thread somewhere in the middle. Not going to worry about that too much.

What I do need to point out is a myth that he refers to in his last paragraph regarding 2 billion bullets procured by Obama to “suppress dissent.” The most recent issue of the American Rifleman (hardly a bulwark of Obama fan-dom) contains an article that explores the very obvious shortages of various types of ammunition (not bullets, to offer the correct terminology) we have been experiencing for some time now, the rumors regarding cause, and the actual numbers. They point out that, while the federal government has placed large orders in the last few years, their delivery is also spread out over several years.

The intent was to have a single agency do the procurement for everyone except the military so that the best possible pricing could be had. The numbers indicate that, for the various agencies that need to maintain both on-hand supplies and training, this is actually a reduction in the amount of ammunition that the government is consuming on an annual basis. Several shooters I know looked at the rounds allocated to individual training and remarked that this is less than they usually expend on a Saturday afternoon.

Might not want to believe everything that shows up in your inbox just because it reinforces your biases.

Bob Hunt, Renton/Twisp

Little minds

Dear Editor:

Nearly 90 comments to the county planning commission unanimously supported retaining stricter SEPA environmental review standards for the Methow Valley. The planning commission agreed with our local valley residents (Methow Valley News, Jan. 15). Nonetheless, the county commissioners voted to remove those standards that have helped protect the special qualities of the Methow for many years.

There were no substantive reasons for changing the treatment of the valley, just that the commissioners thought regulations should be uniform across the county. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said many years ago: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen …”

Randy Brook, Twisp