PORT ANGELES – Clallam County commissioners are looking into developing a tax that would pay for preserving farmlands and open spaces.

A working group has been meeting on developing a Conservation Futures Fund for Clallam County. Other counties around Puget Sound operate similar funds.

County commissioner Randy Johnson told fellow commissioners in a worksession this week, the working idea is to charge two and three quarters cents for every thousand dollars of assessed valuation. That new property tax would bring in about $250,000 a year. That could be leveraged with other money to make purchases of farmlands from willing sellers.

Many alternatives were considered with our working group. We looked at if we have a quarter million dollars and have certainty of  funding,  you can leverage that to another three quarters of $1 million dollars towards conservation features specifically allocated towards farmlands.

Commissioners Mark Ozias and Bill Peach say they’re willing to continue talking about the idea.

But Peach says he’s concerned about adding taxes

That’s important to me. I mean, you understand my position on taxes. But I’m getting the sense that compared to the one percent allowed increase, this is less.

Commissioner Johnson says they plan to continue an outreach about the idea to local groups for input. The county’s draft idea is based closely to a Conservation Futures Fund in Skagit County.

Clallam County commissioners plan to have another update on the local idea in late October.