Editorial: Voters send a message

The message sent by Island County voters Nov. 4 was a simple one: Don’t ask us for money right now.

Every money measure on the ballot lost, and that’s putting it mildly. In fact, every measure was pummeled, never having a chance to pass, whether it was presented on North Whidbey, Central Whidbey, South Whidbey or Island-wide.

North Whidbey Fire & Rescue’s levy increase went down with a 66 percent “no” vote; Port of Coupeville’s levy increase received a 71 percent “no” vote; the Port of South Whidbey’s Langley marina proposal went down with 67 percent voting no; the South Whidbey Park & Recreation aquatic complex received 61 percent “no” votes; and, Island-wide, the proposal to form a Public Utility District with its increased property taxes failed with 66 percent of votes resoundingly saying “no.”

Each proposal had its own unique problems, but they all suffered by being presented to voters during the scariest economic times since the onset of the Great Depression. People have watched their retirement investments spiral downward, their houses are losing value, they’ve seen major banks and brokerage houses failed, they’ve seen unprecedented government rescue efforts, and they’ve watched worriedly as more and more Americans lose their jobs. In this environment, it’s remarkable that about one-third of islanders supported the various measures that would have increased taxes. The rest of us are battening down our financial hatches, just hoping to weather the storm.

The various governmental agencies that put these proposals on the ballot deserve some sympathy. They decided in August or earlier to seek these tax increases, which was well before Wall Street hit the fan.

Island County’s elected officials should keep these election results in mind when finalizing their budgets for 2009. Tighten your belts, because the voters won’t be supporting any more tax increases in the foreseeable future.

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