Angela Pizelo from the Liberty Lake Farmers Market and board member for the Washington State Farmers Market Association reports:
Rep. Scott White(46th District, North Seattle) is spearheading legislation that provides a property tax exemption for church property loaned or rented to non-profit organizations that conduct a farmers market on the property. Chris Curtis and Mary Barrett of the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance are heading up the task force that is working with Rep. White on this legislative issue.
Now isn't that just like Seattle folk. Just when us Spokanites thought we were on the cutting edge of state property tax issues, they have to go and steal our thunder. I guess we can take heart that we created this whole church property/farmers' market mess even if we aren't the ones to initiate the legislation that resolves it.
All kidding aside, I'm excited to see that things look like they are coming together to help churches and markets partner throughout the state. More specifically it would mean that the churches hosting the downtown Spokane Farmers' Market and the Millwood Farmers' Market could return their parking lots to the tax-exempt rolls. (If anyone wants to report on what's going on with the South Perry market give me an update and I'll post the details. It also has been meeting in a church parking lot.)
It sure would help for people to contact their legislators during the process and let them know your support for the upcoming proposed legislation. There is a good chance they aren't aware of it yet so why not email them or give them a call and let them know it's coming and that you support it and hope they will too. Maybe you can even encourage them to co-sponsor the bill in that it was Farmers Markets' in their district that raised this issue in the first place.
State Representatives for the Millwood Farmers' Market District Email Links:
State Representatives for the Downtown Spokane Farmers' Market Email Links:
Isn't it interesting that all the downtown Spokane Reps are Democrats who typically would be supportive of things like Farmers' Markets and local food, and all the State Reps for the more rural area to the east of downtown are Republican and would traditionally be supportive of churches and farmers. This could be a bi-partisan love fest when all is said and done.
I'll post a copy of the proposed legislation when they've finalized it.