Haugen attends roundtable

State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano) will be in Oak Harbor tonight, Oct. 10, to hash out issues with members of the Oak Harbor City Council, the mayor and Island County commissioners.

The legislative roundtable discussion will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Fire Station at 855 SE Whidbey Avenue. The public is welcome to come and listen.

At the top of the agenda for the discussion is Highway 20. Since the state owns and is responsible for the highway through the city, local officials feel it’s vital for the two government bodies to work together to plan for the future of the crucial corridor. Haugen, as chair of the senate’s transportation committee, is a key leader on the issue.

The agenda for the meeting points out that the county’s population is predicted to swell by 41 percent by the year 2025.

“Recognizing that SR 20 serves as the primary land link of state significance connecting the entire length of Whidbey Island,” it asked, “what kind of strategic efforts do you foresee need to be undertaken today to assure and protect the viability of this crucial Island County corridor for tomorrow?”

A second topic of discussion surrounds Puget Sound Partnership, the governor’s renewed effort to clean up Puget Sound. It may cost cities like Oak Harbor a lot of money because of new regulations on septic tanks, stormwater discharge and effluent limitations. But the city is concerned that it will have to compete with non-Puget Sound cities for partnership funds.

Another issue in the Department of Natural Resources’ marina lease. The city leases tideland from the department for the marina, but port districts in the state pay considerably less for the same type of lease. State lawmakers addressed this disparity in 1997, but the governor vetoed the bill. City leaders want to know if the issue can be revisited.

Also, the local leaders want to discuss the perennial issue of unfunded mandates from the state that burden counties and municipalities.

Finally, there will be an open discussion about upcoming issues in the 2008 legislative session.

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