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Letter: Taxes and no flood control

Scott Widdicombe re Skipanon River flood control

Published on December 1, 2017 12:01AM

I have reviewed legal records of the Skipanon Water Control District (SWCD) that are maintained in the Clatsop County Records Department. I found a legal document dated March 1960 which created the SWCD sub-district. This charter document specified its boundaries and its obligations of services to be performed in the future.

This document specified that SWCD was to oversee construction of flood control structures in order for drainage, flood or surface water control which will benefit the people petitioning for flood control along the Skipanon River.

Fifty-plus percent of the property owners with property directly adjacent to the Skipanon River petitioned the Clatsop County Court to create the SWCD sub-district in order to meet the requirements of Oregon state law for flood control districts. This document has no suspend date of when it will no longer be in effect.

Oregon state law forbids ignoring flood control, at the same time promoting “fish passage” improvements in lieu of flood control.

Other documents in the SCWD file require the property owners in the new SWCD sub-district agree to a new property special tax assessment on their annual property tax bill in order to create funds to maintain the new flood control structures into the indefinite future. These taxes would never end unless these documents were amended by the Clatsop County Court.

SWCD-managed tide gates were locked open in 2012, and fully removed in 2015. There has been no flood control available along the Skipanon River since.

Ongoing property taxes each year, without providing flood protection, appear to be illegal to me. Taxes will be collected indefinitely unless someone sues the SWCD to correct this problem.

Scott Widdicombe



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