King County Council creates tax incentives to promote trail links
June 16, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. June 16, 2012
Landowners could receive tax incentives for allowing public access to trails to link to points of interest and existing public trails.
In a decision Monday, King County Council members approved implementation strategies to expand trail linkages through a program created in October 2010. The program expands the Public Benefit Rating System — a program for private landowners to receive incentives to conserve and protect land resources and open space.
“With more people throughout King County using trails for recreation and transportation, finding low cost options for increasing access and connections to our trail system makes sense, especially for taxpayers,” Councilman Larry Phillips, trail legislation sponsor, said in a statement.
The system program provides incentives to encourage landowners to conserve land. In return for preserving and managing resources, the land is assessed at a value consistent with “current use” rather than the “highest and best use.”
Officials said the Public Benefit Rating System offers a chance to expand the regional trail system without acquiring additional property.
The system authorizes property owners to receive a property tax break for providing trail linkages between existing regional trails and destinations.
The ordinance adopted by the council expands the program to include linkages to public points of interest, such as transportation hubs, arts and cultural facilities, retail centers, recreation and open space, and residential concentrations.
“Getting word out about the expansion of our successful Public Benefit Rating System increases opportunities to partner with private landowners in providing trail connections at a much lower cost to the public,” Phillips said.
In the decision, council members directed the Parks Division to report back on strategies to help make the program more effective.
County parks officials recommended a package of strategies — from waiving application fees to targeted outreach mailings to landowners in key areas.