Opinion

Mandatory septic program not fair

Island County’s new septic system inspection program isn’t fair, and until it is people will rightly continue to complain about it.

We won’t argue over whether a mandatory septic system inspection every one to three years is necessary. The fact is the Legislature required that all Puget Sound counties adopt such a program of mandatory inspections. All three 10th District representatives, including the Democratic senator and two Republican representatives, voted in favor of the legislation. The need to better protect Puget Sound created a rare example of bipartisanship.

With the law established, all homeowners with septic systems should have to share in the cost of sustaining the new program. As it now stands, Island County expects only 10 percent of homeowners to comply with the law. Therefore, the commissioners adopted a too-high filing fee of $61 for those who follow the law and record their compliance. That was the easiest way they saw to raise the money to support the program.

Unfortunately, the easy way isn’t always the fair way. Why should the 10 percent who comply pay all the costs? Everyone with a septic system should pay an annual fee to support the program. The county should send out a separate bill or include a bill with the annual property tax statements.

This won’t solve the controversy surrounding mandatory septic tank inspections. But that argument is long-since over. An effort to amend the law to let more people inspect their own systems went nowhere this legislative session. Perhaps some tinkering will be allowed at a later date, but the basic law seems set in concrete.

But no law will be respected if it is not implemented in a fair and just manner, with everyone affected sharing in the cost. It’s time to spread the cost around equitably and quit punishing the 10 percent who comply with the law.

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