Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
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Natural Resource Depletion Fee
By Tammy Maygra

The decision to increase the Natural Resource Depletion/Transportation fee has been confusing to the voters for the past 20 years. The fee has not had an increase since 1996. The fees generated goes to the county road dept. to fix roads inundated by heavy rock trucks which I totally agree with. Even though costs in all other areas has increased, especially the cost of rock and concrete. Rock went from $6-10 per a ton to $25-30 per a ton yet the fee stayed the same. The big surface miners have been given "gold" in Columbia County but call it aggregate.

Knife River and Glacier or whatever Glacier is calling their selves these days- they change their name often because they are always in trouble for environmental issues so change the name to throw the public off are crying the blues that business has been slow and we should feel sorry for them but what they don't talk about is the enormous profits they have seen for many years prior. I don't feel sorry for them. Everyone felt the economic slowdown and most of us did not make millions in profits or millions in wages.

Some of the smaller pits are against the increase of the fee but a couple of these pits were grandfathered in and were exempt from the original fee on the exempt land. And they would only have to pay the fee on new "pits".

The rock companies fail to let it be known that as they pass the fee onto the customer. the pit owners get to deduct the fee off their income tax so the rock companies are benefiting hugely from the fee. The pits pay little in property taxes as well. In the mid 90's I checked the property taxes on the 496 acres owned by Morse Brothers and they paid approximately $1,800 and were getting farm deferral on a huge portion of the property where their processing facility sites today. Thanks to me they lost the farm deferral So again why are they against an increase it would be a good question to ask and to see what sort of an answer you get? Could it be simply greed.

The county road dept. claims the increase will not cost the county $$$  the county Road Dept receives a 15 cent portion of the depletion fee-but if approved the county will receive 25 cents. Half of the total fee will now go to the CC Rider bus system.  This is something as a voter you must decide do you even want the fee increased? This decision should not be a hard choice for the voters.

I can assure you one thing for certain the rock companies will spend thousands to fail this measure saying it's an unfair tax and it will cost jobs the same old crap they say every time someone brings up the fact they should pay a bit more fee, a fee which needs to be brought up to the economics of today and not the economics of twenty years ago. Maybe the rock companies should reduce the cost of rock and concrete to match the economic spreadsheet of the current fee.


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