(1) Any county legislative authority may approve by resolution revenues to a conservation district by fixing rates and charges. The county legislative authority may provide for this system of rates and charges as an alternative to, but not in addition to, a special assessment provided by RCW 89.08.400
. In fixing rates and charges, the county legislative authority may in its discretion consider the information proposed to the county legislative authority by a conservation district consistent with this section.
(2) A conservation district, in proposing a system of rates and charges, may consider:
(a) Services furnished, to be furnished, or available to the landowner;
(b) Benefits received, to be received, or available to the property;
(c) The character and use of land;
(d) The public benefit nonprofit corporation status, as defined in RCW 24.03A.245
, of the land user;
(e) The income level of persons served or provided benefits under this chapter, including senior citizens and disabled persons; or
(f) Any other matters that present a reasonable difference as a ground for distinction, including the natural resource needs within the district and the capacity of the district to provide either services or improvements, or both.
(3)(a) The system of rates and charges may include an annual per acre amount, an annual per parcel amount, or an annual per parcel amount plus an annual per acre amount. If included in the system of rates and charges, the maximum annual per acre rate or charge shall not exceed ten cents per acre. The maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed five dollars, except that for counties with a population of over four hundred eighty thousand persons, the maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed ten dollars, and for counties with a population of over one million five hundred thousand persons, the maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed fifteen dollars.
(b) Public land, including lands owned or held by the state, shall be subject to rates and charges to the same extent as privately owned lands. The procedures provided in chapter 79.44
RCW shall be followed if lands owned or held by the state are subject to the rates and charges of a conservation district.
(c) Forestlands used solely for the planting, growing, or harvesting of trees may be subject to rates and charges if such lands are served by the activities of the conservation district. However, if the system of rates and charges includes an annual per acre amount or an annual per parcel amount plus an annual per acre amount, the per acre rate or charge on such forestlands shall not exceed one-tenth of the weighted average per acre rate or charge on all other lands within the conservation district that are subject to rates and charges. The calculation of the weighted average per acre shall be a ratio calculated as follows: (i) The numerator shall be the total amount of money estimated to be derived from the per acre special rates and charges on the nonforestlands in the conservation district; and (ii) the denominator shall be the total number of nonforestland acres in the conservation district that are served by the activities of the conservation district and that are subject to the rates or charges of the conservation district. No more than ten thousand acres of such forestlands that is both owned by the same person or entity and is located in the same conservation district may be subject to the rates and charges that are imposed for that conservation district in any year. Per parcel charges shall not be imposed on forestland parcels. However, in lieu of a per parcel charge, a charge of up to three dollars per forestland owner may be imposed on each owner of forestlands whose forestlands are subject to a per acre rate or charge.
(4) The consideration, development, adoption, and implementation of a system of rates and charges shall follow the same public notice and hearing process and be subject to the same procedure and authority of RCW 89.08.400
(5)(a) Following the adoption of a system of rates and charges, the conservation district board of supervisors shall establish by resolution a process providing for landowner appeals of the individual rates and charges as applicable to a parcel or parcels.
(b) Any appeal must be filed by the landowner with the conservation district no later than twenty-one days after the date property taxes are due. The decision of the board of supervisors regarding any appeal shall be final and conclusive.
(c) Any appeal of the decision of the board shall be to the superior court of the county in which the district is located, and served and filed within twenty-one days of the date of the board's written decision.
(6) A conservation district shall prepare a roll that implements the system of rates and charges approved by the county legislative authority. The rates and charges from the roll shall be spread by the county assessor as a separate item on the tax rolls and shall be collected and accounted for with property taxes by the county treasurer. The amount of the rates and charges shall constitute a lien against the land that shall be subject to the same conditions as a tax lien, and collected by the treasurer in the same manner as delinquent real property taxes, and subject to the same interest and penalty as for delinquent property taxes. The county treasurer shall deduct an amount from the collected rates and charges, as established by the county legislative authority, to cover the costs incurred by the county assessor and county treasurer in spreading and collecting the rates and charges, but not to exceed the actual costs of such work. All remaining funds collected under this section shall be transferred to the conservation district and used by the conservation district in accordance with this section.
(7) The rates and charges for a conservation district shall not be spread on the tax rolls and shall not be allocated with property tax collections in the following year if, after the system of rates and charges has been approved by the county legislative authority but before the fifteenth day of December in that year, a petition has been filed with the county legislative authority objecting to the imposition of such rates and charges, which petition has been signed by at least twenty percent of the owners of land that would be subject to the rate or charge to be imposed for a conservation district.