By Don Nelson
Winthrop has joined Twisp in supporting efforts of the Methow Headwaters Campaign to limit large-scale mining in 340,000-plus acres of U.S. Forest Service land north of Mazama.
At its meeting last week, the Winthrop Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution that asks the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Congress “for withdrawal of lands within the Methow Headwaters … from location and entry under the General Mining Act of 1872, and do formally support such withdrawal for the health, vitality and well-being of its citizens and the greater Methow Valley community, and for future generations.” (See related story, page A1.)
The Twisp Town Council earlier approved a similar resolution.
In other business, the town heard a report from the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which recommends how to use the lodging taxes collected in Winthrop. Of the 5 percent tax levied on lodging occupants, 2 percent goes to the town budget and 3 percent goes into a fund that must be used for tourism promotion. The Winthrop Chamber of Commerce handles promotional activities for the town, using the lodging tax proceeds.
The marketing program includes a $50,000 “emergency fund” to be used in years when lodging tax revenues fall for some reason such as a natural disaster that impedes tourism.
“This is an investment in the future of the community,” committee member Lori Loomis told the council.
Lodging tax revenues have been steadily growing the past few years, reaching record levels.
The council also approved the final draft of the 2017 town budget after a public hearing.
And the council approved a resolution notifying Okanogan County that the town and Okanogan County Fire District 6 will schedule an election for Feb. 14, 2017, on the question of whether the town should be annexed to the fire district. Residents of the town and of the fire district must approve the annexation for it to go forward.