Some Klamath Falls South Suburban residents are upset about paying 'forest land' and 'grazing' rates for fire protection...and they took their concerns to the Klamath County Commissioners today.
Butch Kennedy is now paying 67 dollars a year for fire protection to the Oregon Department of Forestry, even though he lives in a residential neighborhood...
"I'm already paying 228 dollars to District #1 for fire protection." Notes Kennedy. "And if you look at the area around here, I don't live in a forest."
Some say that amounts to double-taxation.
"We're just a well that people are dipping into every time they have a budget crunch." Testified Connie Carvalho. "I'm a little tired of paying for services that we don't get."
The Oregon Department of Forestry says the new charges reflect changes in land use, and more accurate mapping.
"The last major review of the classifications was in the early 1970's." Noted Randall Baley of the ODF. "And with the current technology and data, this is allowing us to go through the whole entire county to help each other out."
Public meetings were held in January, and 16 thousand letters were mailed out in Klamath County to explain the new assessments...but Butch Kennedy was one of many who just threw the letter away...
"I didn't pay any attention to it, because I don't own any private forest."
The concerns resonate with Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum, who's also paying a new assessment...
"We need to dispel the notion that taxpayer dollars are endless."
The commissioners may ask state forestry to reconsider some of those classifications.
But for now, Butch Kennedy will pay forest, and residential costs for fire protection.
Here's a link to the Oregon Department of Forestry page on forest land classification in Klamath County, complete with maps: www.oregon.gov/odf/Pages/field/kl/KlamathCountyForestlandClassification.aspx