Opinion

Freeland funding questioned | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

The Freeland Water and Sewer District (FWSD) held a public meeting after their workshop Jan. 30. It was a brief meeting to discuss reimbursements revolving around the agreement between Island County and the FWSD.

Island County has been withholding reimbursement for services rendered by consultants (most prominently by Edwards and Associates for accounting services) related to the administration of the Rural County Economic Development Grant Award for the Freeland Sewer Project.

In a letter from Elaine Marlowe, Island County Budget Director, dated Nov. 16, 2011, these funds were withheld because the expenses were not covered by the Interlocal Agreement. Ms. Marlowe claims that services related to travel, website administration, responding to public records request (an expense borne by the requester) and other general administration fees not be covered.

I think that this is reasonable.

But, in addition to this, Island County now denies payment for reasonable expenses for administrative work, including the professional fees charged by Edwards and Associates. This was an interpretation of Ms. Marlowe of her reading of the agreement.

The agreement, at signing, stated that Island County would reimburse FWSD for expenses related to “preconstruction planning, final engineering,” etc. However in Ms. Marlowe’s letter, she now refers to the agreement as stating “preconstruction, planning, final engineering” adding a comma to the reference.

That’s some comma!

Ms. Marlowe also states that the vouchers for Edwards and Associates did not contain adequate detail to determine “which services are specifically related to the project.” While I do understand why the county is loathe to reimburse FWSD for Helen Price Johnson’s expenses for hotel, airfare, and meals in Washington, D.C., as well as other frivolous expenses by Chet Ross, ad nauseam, and many other examples of wasteful spending,

I am at a loss to understand why the Interlocal Agreement does not authorize reasonable expenses for the management of $2,500,000.

Hopefully, Edwards and Associates will be able to document their accounting expenses to the satisfaction of Island County.

Chelle Brunke

Freeland

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