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Commissioners approve raising taxes for weed control

In an effort to combat invasive weeds, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners allocated funding for a noxious weeds control program.

This action does not support actual removal of the offending plants, instead, the idea is to educate people about their prevention.

The cost per taxpayer is $1 per parcel, plus 8 cents per acre. It will be assessed in the 2005 tax bill.

County Parks director Cris Gears spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the responsibility for the weeds was an “unfunded mandate,” and if the county does not comply, the state will do the work and then bill the county.

Silverdale developer Ron Ross said he liked this idea, saying it’s better to pay someone else to do the job than to create a new bureaucracy. Other observers pointed out the system’s imperfections. Mike Eliason of the Kitsap Kitsap County Association of Realtors called the allocated amount “a drop in the bucket” and suggested the commissioners develop a full plan to submit to the public for review.

The Noxious Weed Control Board is charged with identifying potential problem weeds and working for their eradication before they get out of control. The agency is not concerned with the best-known weeds, such as Scotch broom, English ivy and blackberries. These common weeds are so prevalent that any effort to remove them is thought doomed from the start, and they are designated as “Class C” weeds.

Weeds of interest, such as the giant hogweed, are labeled “Class A” and have a reasonable chance of elimination.

To qualify as a noxious weed, a plant must originate outside of the local area, and the natural checks and balances that prevent it from getting out of control.

For example, the giant hogweed is a member of the parsley or carrot family native to southwestern Asia and can grow as high as 20 feet tall. It was brought to this area in the 1950s to enhance ornamental gardens, but “escaped” into the general population, where it has crowded out native species and increased soil erosion. Milk thistle, which has a medicinal use in fighting liver disease and is cultivated in Texas, is considered a noxious weed in the Pacific Northwest.

Scott Henden, a Kingston businessman running for Commissioner Chris Endresen’s seat, injected some drama into the meeting when he placed a $5 bill on the commissioners’ podium for “my next five years.” He spoke out against adding another levy, saying the commissioners should find the money in the regular budget.

The bill was returned to Henden, and he was instructed to submit it with his tax return.

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