Expect tax increase for wildfire funding

Expect tax increase for wildfire funding

15 October 2008

published by www.currycountyreporter.com

USA — Forestland owners can expect an increase on their tax statements when they arrive in the mail in the next few days.

The adjustment will come in the form of two separate increases related to large wildfires paid for through the Oregon Forestland Protection Fund (OFLPF).

The first part of the increase is a 25 percent boost to the existing OFLPF to adequately cover annual large fire costs. The fund, which has generated about $8 million annually from improved lot surcharges, minimum lot assessments and timber harvest assessments, has become inadequate to cover large wildfire costs.

This increase will generate $10 million annually, which is more in line with today’s suppression costs of large fire incidents within a normal fire season.

The other portion of the increase relates to a deficit in the OFLPF in 2007 that required fund managers to borrow $5 million from the State Treasury in 2008. The loan must be paid back in one year and will only appear on this year’s tax statements.

The result of these two increases will take the improved lot surcharge from $38 to $71.47 this year and $47.50 in subsequent years after repayment of the loan is fulfilled.

The minimum forestland lot assessment (less than 20 acres) will increase from $18 to $20.64 this year and $18.75 in subsequent years.

The minimum lot surcharge has been in place since 1989 and refers to any forestland parcel with an improvement, such as a structure. It was instituted based on populations expanding into forest areas which led to more human caused fires while at the same time compromised traditional wildfire suppression techniques.

The Oregon Department of Forestry and Associations like Coos Forest Protective Association work diligently at the district level to keep wildfires small through aggressive initial attack. When a fire does escape initial attack, through this complete and coordinated system, CFPA and other protection districts have the option of utilizing these OFLPF resources offered on a statewide scale.

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