Everybody should chip in to save Washington’s financially challenged state park system, not just RV owners. That’s the contention of just about every major RV club and industry association regarding an effort by legislators in the Evergreen State to compensate for state park budgetary shortfalls by increasing taxes for RV owners.
No one appears to doubt Washington parks need cash. According to the Tacoma Tribune, the parks need about $340 million worth of maintenance work and improvements. The state was forced to abandon several state parks last year because of fiscal problems. And several more might be closed this year.
But if the Senate bill is approved, RV owners would pay a 0.8% excise tax annually on the fair market value of their vehicles beginning Jan. 1, 2004. Under this scenario, the owner of a motorhome valued at $40,000 would pay $320 annually.
“We’re going to resist it to the best of our ability,” said Max Durbin, who chairs the government and legislative affairs committee of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), which is fighting the proposed RV tax along with representatives of the Good Sam Club, the Escapees RV Club, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and both the Washington state affiliate and the national office of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
“We have no problem with a (state park) user fee,” Durbin added, “but (we would prefer to) have all of the users be involved in it.”
“Raising the usage fees at the gate is really the only fair way to generate the needed revenue,” Washington RVDA President Ron Little contends in a letter to his constituents. Little is president of RVs Northwest in Green Acres, Wash.
Not everyone, however, thinks it’s unfair to have RV owners bail out Washington’s state parks. The Tacoma Tribune, for example, published an editorial noting that “RV owners have been getting something close to a free ride” since a state ballot initiative forced the repeal of the state’s 2.5% motor vehicle excise tax three years. 
“In Washington,” the Tacoma Tribune wrote, “the owners of most recreational boats and snowmobiles pay an excise tax. And every other Western state taxes RVs, most of them on the basis of value. Why should this state’s RVs be exempt?”
In concurring with that sentiment, Bob Oke, who chairs the state Senate’s Parks, Fish and Wildlife Committee, conceded in an Associated Press report that the proposed tax will be financed by “a select few.” But he implied that it is only fair because RV owners “are not paying property taxes (on their vehicles) and are not paying taxes for schools.”