LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Who made my house the bank?
July 22, 2008 · Updated 5:49 PM
To the editor:
I just read with interest and much appreciation the letter to the editor (“South Whidbey is not a cash cow,” Record, July 19) by
Mr. Shorey. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of this piece.
The current economic downturn is due at least in part to the fact that over the last few years people have been using their homes as a source of cash for their private lives. This seems to have come to an end. But now it appears as though we are looking at various government agencies trying to continue this trend by increasing our property taxes for every special interest project that comes along.
It seems as though one cannot pick up the paper without reading about some new project that some government agency is considering that will increase our property taxes and make it more expensive to live here.
The various projects and ideas that I have read about include a new marina, a public utilities district, a new fire training facility, a swimming pool, and even the possibility of a publicly funded golf course and bowling alley.
By themselves, each one of these projects perhaps has some intrinsic value. The problem is that with the possible exception of the fire training facility and the public utility district, the value of these projects seems to benefit only small special interest groups and not the community as a whole. These groups are asking all of us to fund projects which do not provide necessary widespread community benefit.
The marina project seems to be a moving target with respect to planning and costs. The vague economic benefit seems to be shrinking. The specific community benefit of 14-20 jobs to the South End escapes me. Furthermore,
I have no idea what approximately a $2 million infusion means to the entire community. It sounds like a large number, but is it really for the proposed investment? How does it translate into benefits for all of the citizens of South Whidbey? It probably helps Langley. My experience is that the “trickle down effect” of these types of projects never quite “trickles down” to the widespread community — even though we all pay for them.
Before I would consider voting for this and other similar projects, the proponents need to be very specific as to how this will benefit my neighbors and me. This has not been done.
The PUD seems to be nothing more than an emotional hot button at this point.
There is no specific information. What information there is seems to be changing. The tax levy has been stated at anywhere from 45 cents to 4 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. What little I know is that this could turn into a deep dark economic hole with no bottom and the economies of scale would make it difficult to reduce our overall costs.
Yet people are ready to vote to commit money to a project which we know nothing about. I need to be convinced about specific possible benefits. Is local control truly a benefit? Will it really cut our costs and make things better?
On the surface it sounds good. But the arguments sound very superficial. As of now I am not convinced and could not vote for this proposal.
I am all for community projects which provide necessary services and serve the community as a whole. To gain my support, these projects need to specify benefits which are well researched, documented, specific and well spelled out.
In other words, how will life in our community be changed for the better for all citizens by making these public expenditures? I will not vote for projects where benefits to the community are limited to a small group and the return on my public investment is not clear. Vague generalities and emotional arguments are not good enough to sway this voter.
We need to be very specific about where the line is drawn between necessary projects and programs which benefit the community as a whole and those that will benefit only a very few before we continue to make it more difficult for the average citizen to continue to live here.
If we do not make an effort to define this line, South Whidbey will become just another playpen for the wealthy. Many of us will be unable to continue to live here and enjoy the unique environment for which we came.
My house as a bank has been tapped out!