GMA affects rural counties most; initiatives send message

Improve county system, tax base

Letter to the Editor - Skagit Valley Herald


Charles Spink

Mount Vernon, WA - 12/25/01 - The initiatives I-695 and I-747 have put a damper on future increases in county spending. The voters finally realized the only way to control runaway spending is to shut off the supply line. The last commissioners greatly expanded county government and services giving top bureaucrats exorbitant salaries. Money was no problem they just raised taxes every year. Now we are left with a bloated government and a voter-imposed dried-up well.

The county commissioners realize the gravity of the situation. We need to drastically reduce spending and roll back every nonessential service and trim county employment. It isnít the time to be giving large pay raises to elected officials while many are now faced with layoffs and possible hard times ahead. This process needs changing now. A charter system would allow initiatives and referendums and allow us to set the rules pertaining to pay raises.

The Growth Management Act has seriously affected county finances. The towns have hoggishly gobbled up the prime tax base that being the outlying commercial land whose taxes once went into the county coffers. The Growth Board has prevented almost all rural growth while the urban centers have become boomtowns. The county needs to increase the rural tax base and the only way it can is to allow more residential growth or the towns need to ante up funds to help county services. It is time to allow rural areas that already exhibit more intensive growth to expand.

Charles Spink, Mount Vernon

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