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County approves fee for land above aquifer

Kootenai County property owners who have land above the Rathdrum Prairie-Spokane Valley Aquifer or in recharge areas now must pay $8 a year to protect the underground drinking water supply.

The Kootenai County Commission set the fee Tuesday and voted unanimously that it should apply to all parcel numbers within the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Protection District whether they are vacant land, homes or businesses.

“Even vacant land within the (district) has the ability to have some impact on the aquifer,” Commissioner Todd Tondee said.

Initially, Commission Chairman Rick Currie argued that the fee should apply only to occupied properties, as recommended by the district’s Police and Budget Committee. The committee also recommended the $8 annual fee.

Yet Currie ultimately voted to have the fee assessed to all parcel numbers within the protection district.

Voters approved the protection district in November to collect money to replace lost state funding for pollution prevention and monitoring water quality.

The $8 annual fee, which will appear on December property tax bills similar to how the county’s solid waste fee is listed, is expected to generate about $420,000.

Spokane County residents pay about $1.4 million a year through a similar measure.