The “Yes on Whidbey PUD” group insists if the PUD vote passes, their first task will be to have an independent study done to determine if a PUD is really feasible and viable. At a League of Women Voters forum, I asked the PUD representative why they had not asked the county commissioners to fund a feasibility study with a relatively small tax levy before voting to establish the PUD. This would put off establishing a PUD with its independent taxing and bond issuing authority until the public had been fully and independently informed.
The PUD representative responded and told the audience he had discussed the matter with “commissioners” (plural) and had been told the commissioners would not be interested in such a study at present. Therefore, the “Yes” group went forward with the petition and the ballot measure. The audience appeared satisfied with the answer – it appeared their elected representatives had been consulted. The indication was the county commissioners would not act so the “Yes” group went forward independently.
The audience was misled by that answer. When questioned after the forum, the PUD speaker admitted an error in his statement: “Did I say commissioners? I meant commissioner.” He had not spoken before “commissioners” (plural) as he had told the audience. He had spoken “informally to a commissioner (singular), who is a friend of mine” and that individual indicated the commissioners would probably not be interested. The commissioner reportedly spoken to was not identified.
So, there we are. The PUD group has presented us with a “tailored for Whidbey” study they did with unidentified experts and tell us the initial levy they will impose will be minimal – “the cost of a couple of lattes.” The three PUD commissioners will have the authority to tax at the rate of 45 cents a thousand. The candidates insist they will not do this – “trust us.” One candidate went so far to say, “Recall us if we do.”
I don’t know if a PUD would be a feasible and viable course of action for Whidbey because I still haven’t seen an independent feasibility study. Indeed, one of the prospective PUD commissioners stated some doubt on his part that a PUD would be viable. Unintentionally or not, I was misled by their forum speaker. I also don’t appreciate candidates who, in effect, take the road of “trust us or recall us.” I will vote “no.”