Editorial: Public feels the first pinch

Island County and Washington State have been cutting spending for a couple of years now, but the public at large is just now starting to feel the pinch.

We may not notice teachers’ aides who have been laid off, state workers on furlough, or roads that are in bad shape but still passable. But give us some garbage on the beach and listen to us whine.

Island County beginning March 1 will pull the garbage cans from some of our most popular parks, simply because the half-time maintenance person can’t keep up with all the work. But short of laying off another cop to hire a garbage collector, the county’s hands are tied.

Meanwhile, the ax hasn’t yet fallen on our beloved state parks, but legislators are wielding it in Olympia. It’s almost certain that free day access to our parks at Deception Pass, Fort Casey, Joseph Whidbey, Fort Ebey and South Whidbey and many others throughout the state are nearing an end. The only question is how much we’ll have to pay and in what form: cash up front or passes? Many parks could close.

This could have been avoided if voters hadn’t been in such an anti-tax mood for the past 10 years or so. Washington State Ferries shows no sign of recovering from the voters’ decision to virtually eliminate the motor vehicle excise tax. Last summer Island County’s Proposition 1 was slaughtered at the polls. It would have paid for essential services such as parks and public safety.

Perhaps the time is coming when the public will learn that cutting spending eventually will hurt us all. Sure, there was some wasteful spending and probably still is. But the cuts are starting to bite. Of course, even tax haters can help without paying more. Simply sign up to help keep one of the parks clean. Call 679-7331. Chances are, the phone won’t be ringing off the hook.

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