LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Port’s “cash cow” raises questions
June 26, 2008 · Updated 8:25 AM
To the editor:
The Langley Small Boat Harbor project may stand for years as a local civics lesson (perhaps along with Freeland’s futile planning process).
Since the port commissioners are not at all disposed to considering public opinion, the campaigning to raise awareness of the issues needs to begin. Here are a few observations:
The city of Langley gave away its marina because of looming costs. In embracing the facility, the port never publicly stated that its deeper taxing pockets made it an ideal owner. This missing level of honesty would have informed the public during the transfer. Now Commissioner Seitle says people have long known taxpayer support would be needed to rebuild the marina. Perhaps his friends and Langley government “people” knew this.
Establishing the viability of the marina as a self-supporting investment could be done in stages, as financial advisor Dane Anderson seems to suggest. The commissioners want the whole hog on their watch. This is a warning sign that ambition is trumping perspective.
The marina is touted as a cash cow, with the potential to produce more than 20 good jobs.
Really? Pleasure boating in the Puget Sound is dramatically affected by seasonal weather. Any observer can count the pleasure boat activity in the October-April period as minimal. How are “good jobs” supported on a part-year activity? Moreover, how are the full-time jobs necessitated by a large facility paid for?
The limited nature and obscure location of the Langley marina will clearly benefit Langley commercially. It seems that Langley’s leaders, and circling potential developers, have cleverly avoided having this conversation in public, with the help of the port commission. Having free public financing for the biggest development in its history would be a remarkable accomplishment.
Boat owners would be the chief beneficiaries of a deluxe facility that offers moorage. Fishermen have several free public launch sites already. Boat owners, as a group, share this leisure pastime because they can afford it. A recent supporter’s column in the Record asserted that, since he pays larger than average taxes on his larger than average house, willingly, then we should all consider kicking in on the marina. Unfortunately, this merely makes the arguments as to the affluence needed for the boating sport.
The port commissioners’ edict is taxation under all options, even citizen rejection. This goes beyond coercion to threatening language. I, personally, do not support having a port commission in order to be threatened.