Using other people’s money | Editorial
November 1, 2011 · Updated 1:54 PM
When times are hard, its great when you can get your money elsewhere. In this regard, officials in Island County have been doing a fine job.
Martha Rose, executive director of Island Transit, announced that her agency will receive $17.92 million in federal money to build a main base for the island’s free bus system.
The central base near Coupeville has been hopelessly inadequate for years, but island residents weren’t asked to pass a levy or bond issue to provide improvements. Instead, Rose spent years lining up political support for federal money, and now a first-rate bus base will be built.
Likewise, Oak Harbor just got a new coat of asphalt through town thanks to the Washington Department of Transportation. It was a routine maintenance job, but Oak Harbor residents could never have afforded it on their own. Likewise, the downtown Pioneer Way reconstruction project was largely paid for by outside sources.
The state spent millions on Highway 20 improvements near Arnold Road, and it was just announced it will help the county improve the dangerous area near the county landfill and animal shelter.
These types of project are our gas taxes and income taxes coming back to us, but at a far greater rate than we pay. If we added up all the taxes paid by islanders they wouldn’t come close to the millions spent here by various government agencies. The Navy, of course, makes this a no-brainer. Without military spending, we’d have to go back to raising chickens.
All this largess coming from large governments allow islanders to use their taxes for the essentials, like the schools (which we don’t fully support, either), park and recreation districts and port districts. We can afford to keep the pool open Nov. 8, and we can afford to maintain a local police force, but we’d quickly go broke if we actually had to pay for all the government infrastructure projects that take place here.
Martha Rose recognizes this, and deserves our appreciation for saving us more than $17 million, because we do need a new bus base.
Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik or challenger Scott Dudley, depending on who’s elected, will face a similar challenge as his new term begins. We need a new sewer plant costing upwards of $100 million. The mayor should be hard at work finding someone else to pay for most of it.