Prop. 1 rewards stagnation | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
August 11, 2010 · Updated 2:43 PM
To the editor:
Island County’s Proposition 1 — “For Retention Of Basic Public Safety” — sounds like a threat: Give us more money or we’ll let the criminals run loose. Will they fire sheriff’s deputies to fund septic tank police?
The commissioners’ statement and the public forum presentations emphasize the “dire” and “catastrophic” consequences of further cuts — mixing fear-mongering with whining, as if only county government can supply services.
The commissioners have not considered the cost reduction and efficiency measures of community-provided services. For several decades, other jurisdictions around the country have successfully encouraged their communities’ private resources. For example, see http://reason.org/news/show/local-government-privatization-101.
Competitive pressures introduce incentives to increase quality and to reduce costs. The 5-percent to 20-percent average cost savings that other jurisdictions have achieved would mean a savings of $3.4 million (using the 5-percent amount) for Island County.
That’s more than enough to cover the projected $2 million shortfall. The sheriff could even hire a few more deputies.
In addition, the private providers often pay taxes instead of consume them. Revenues could increase in response to a friendlier business environment.
Jacking up taxes can only impose costs that the commissioners have not taken into account: business lost, sales (and sales taxes) reduced, tax base eroded. They’ve only done half their homework.
Instead of cutting programs across the board, priorities should be set and adequate funding should be provided from the top down. When funds run out, provision of the remaining services should be restructured.
Prop. 1 rewards stagnation and the status quo instead of setting priorities, boosting efficiencies and restructuring outmoded ways of providing services. A tax increase is retrospective, not progressive. Throwing other people’s money at a crisis is as apt to hurt as to help.
Support your local economy. Vote NO on Prop. 1.