Letters to the Editor

Cutting impairs property values

We are informed that the Island County Commissioners have declared a financial emergency due to declining tax revenues in this recession, and in response, the six elected officials have sent the commissioners an open letter demanding that all “discretionary” spending be terminated to keep those officials from losing critical staff.

We now find that “discretionary” spending includes such items as the senior centers, WAS extension programs, and the animal shelters. We are also informed that even if all these programs were entirely eliminated, the county would still be in the red and more cuts would have to be made. This is an open letter to the commissioners and to those elected officials who demand that cuts be made, but not from them.

To the commissioners: We bought property on Whidbey Island about 10 years ago after thoroughly researching this and other communities. We took note of Whidbey’s thriving volunteer culture, including the fine programs run by the WSU extension office, the range of services and activities offered by the senior centers, and the natural beauty made available by the parks. We were sufficiently impressed by what we found to buy property here.

We have never lived in a community that considered having animal shelters, parks, and a 4-H program to be frivolities that taxpayers could not afford. Nobody will pay top dollar to live in such a community. Commissioners, please do not eliminate the so-called discretionary programs. Without them, the value of the property we worked for a lifetime to afford will be significantly impaired.

To the sheriff, prosecutor, auditor, treasurer, clerk and assessor: We voted for each and every one of you, Republicans and Democrats. We understand that if your budgets fall below a certain level, you cannot do the jobs we elected you to do. But your letter setting forth those grim facts should be addressed to us, the taxpayers, not to the county commissioners. Sheriff Brown, your office is easily the most voracious consumer of tax dollars. Please have the courage to tell us if we cannot have a fully functioning sheriff’s office without tax increases. The same applies to the other elected officials.

Like the county, our personal revenue is down in this struggling economy. But we are adults and fully understand that what we want must be paid for. Please tell us if you cannot function with our current tax revenues, and stop acting as though all would be well if somehow, somewhere, the commissioners would cut somebody else.

Brian and Lynn Petersen


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