Funding

District Funding
The District is funded through a variety of sources, including grants, local landowner rates, and direct contracts. All funds that pass through the District’s accounts are managed in accordance with Federal and State rules and regulations, and our reporting is conducted using the BARS method for governmental finance.

The District’s annual budget exceeds $2 million. These funds are used to conduct environmental project planning and implementation to benefit the residents of Pierce County.

Grants

The District actively seeks grant funds from the State and Federal governments, and from various private foundations and universities. On average, the District has about 20 grants active at any 1 time. Our grant revenues over the past 3 years have averaged about $700,000. In addition, we assist other organizations in pursuing and receiving grant funds. Over $500,000 was obligated to our partner organizations in 2004 by grant funders through the use of District matching funds for their projects.

Conservation District to Switch from Property Assessment to Rates

Since 2004, the Pierce Conservation District has charged a $5 per parcel assessment to fund its basic water quality and agricultural assistance programs and services. Due to pending litigation in Washington State regarding property assessments, the Pierce Conservation District collaborated with King, Snohomish, Mason, and Spokane Conservation Districts in the 2012 Legislative Session for an alternative revenue source called a rate or a charge. The District cannot impose both an assessment and a rate.

The District has determined to drop the assessment and move to rates. In doing so, our funding is expected to stay the same. Under rates, each eligible parcel is subject to a charge. There is still a cap of $5 per parcel on eligible parcels to be charged and, rates cannot be increased without authorization from the State Legislature, the District Board of Supervisors, and the County Council.

Differences
A rate or charge is different than a property assessment, however. A rate or a charge is more like a garbage rate or surface water utility rate, except in this case it cannot increase without the approval from the elected officials mentioned above. The per parcel assessment had the same restrictions in this regard. An assessment is generally related to a service or improvement that adds value to a parcel of property. A rate is a charge intended to recover the cost of public improvements, services or programs, received by or available to properties in the District, or to pay for costs to mitigate negative impacts on natural resources from those properties i.e. habitat restoration and protection of commercial or recreational shellfish beds.

Overall
All in all, the vast majority of property owners within the Pierce Conservation District will see no difference to their annual bill; however, some customers will see their bill reduced. It will still be collected through the property tax statements sent by the County, and there will still be a maximum of $5 per parcel. Rates are calculated differently for different land types due to the programs and services received and negative impacts imposed, therefore many landowners, such as owners of open space land or agricultural land, will see their charge go down as a result of this change.

Rate Structure

The following is the rate structure approved by the Pierce Conservation District Board of Supervisors at their July 19 Board Meetings:
Land Type
Rate Charged
Residential $5 per parcel, per year
Commercial
$4.99 per parcel, per year
Agricultural $4.15 per parcel, per year
Institutional / Public
$4.99 per parcel, per year
Vacant / Undeveloped
$3.95 per parcel, per year
Open Space
$3.96 per parcel, per year
Forest Land
Exempt
Member Jurisdiction List
  • City of Buckley
  • City of Dupont
  • City of Fircrest
  • City of Gig Harbor
  • City of Lakewood
  • City of Milton
  • City of Puyallup
  • City of Steilacoom
  • City of Sumner
  • City of Tacoma
  • City of University Place
  • Unincorporated Pierce County

Direct Contacts
The District often acts as a contractor to local governments and other organizations through direct contracts. These include Stream Team contracts to assist jurisdictions in meeting their requirements under the Federal Clean Water Act, and contracts to provide technical assistance beyond the expertise of partner organizations. Direct contracts to the District average about $100,000 year for the District.