Writer’s targets are questionable | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
April 27, 2010 · Updated 2:30 PM
To the editor:
A spokesperson for the out-of-power party (the local Republicans) has again demanded a general coup d’etat in Coupeville.
The instigating charge is hardly a smoking gun, a sex scandal or other cerebral offense; it’s a return envelope. The critic, Charlona Sawyer, is right — no return envelope with our taxes this year.
It didn’t take long to unearth the perpetrator of this foul deed, since the treasurer makes written confession within the same tax statement and cites a budget cut as her motive. Accordingly, a virtual guilty net is cast over the entire county government where the three commissioners hail from another party.
You’re probably thinking, there’s got to be more to this story than an absent return envelope — let’s hope. Charlona’s peeved by some county fees that have increased as we struggle through the largest recession in most of our lives. Locally the county expense revenue has dropped 9 percent, 4 percent and 2 percent for years 2008-2010 accompanied by the loss of more than 50 employees — hardly small potatoes.
Some user fees have indeed increased, as a responsible budget demands, but it’s the WSU Extension Services that attracts the writer’s ire. Three of these (the Beach Watchers, lighthouse docents and Waste Wise) have contributed more than 23,000 volunteer hours, interacted with 45,000 island visitors and completed more than 100 septic classes — all in 2009. These are not funded from the county expense budget, and strike me as questionable targets for a budget axe.
Nevertheless, it’s good that someone is keeping a wary eye on local government — the system works best under scrutiny. Had there been more such scrutiny as we evolved our current over-dependence on residential development, we might not be in these current dire circumstances. But Charlona’s party fanned those flames, not realizing that the initial high in revenues is followed by a longer-term hangover for a county budget.
I’m also thrilled that the commissioners have assembled an independent team to examine the longer-term directions of the county’s business plan. Hopefully this will lead to some more responsible and progressive policies than those they inherited.