Email to the Editor

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I know we’re in the middle of a pandemic that some people believe is real and others don’t, but what is real for both camps is that our commissioners are leading us down a path that could increase the county’s long term debt by another eight million dollars. To be clear, item 8.2 on Tuesday’s (3/24) BOCC agenda read as follows: “Approval to have the Chair sign the Public Works Board loan agreement (#PC20-96103-157) in the amount of $8,000,000 for the Belfair Sewer Extension Project.”

There is no getting around the fact that the Belfair Sewer Project was and remains the worst decision in recent Mason County history, maybe the worst ever; and there’s no point rehashing the long, sad, tale that brought us here. But now the road ahead seems as unclear as the one behind, and the public is expected, once again, to trust three elected officials to show us the way forward. Unfortunately, unlike a virus, there’s no chance of not being affected by their decision.

Of course, there are some conditions around this loan, but you’ll never know what they are because not a single commissioner thought to pull the item off the agenda for a separate vote and an on the record presentation. Nope, they just slipped it between two innocuous agenda items and before a public hearing that added $1.2M in additional expenses to the 2020 budget. But who’s counting, right?

The point is not the money; it’s not even the God awful Belfair Sewer Project; it’s that county commissioners operate with almost no oversight other than public scrutiny, and when they know you don’t care enough to exercise that oversight they tend to make decisions they may not have otherwise.

Political decisions.

Maybe it’s just me, but for a county with a reputation for mistrusting government, it’s seems odd to turn over $120M to three people with no prior experience managing large budgets before they got elected and think everything is going to turn out well. Not to make light of a serious situation, but if we do nothing about the COVID-19 virus it will eventually pass; not so with our current form of county government. We need to make some changes. We need Home Rule Charter. 


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(4) comments

Darrell Barker

Two of the three commissioners are known Conservatives. What, if anything, are they conserving?

Lee Fraser

I think the concerns that the commissioners, acting essentially in secret, is inappropriate and cause for concern. If what they wanted to do couldn't stand the light then it probably shouldn't have been done. Now,with possibly no recourse, we as a county are committed to this debt and county revenues are probably dropping like a rock through the air. This is another example of poor leadership coupled with a seemingly poor outcome for the county. Home rule would eliminate this kind of problem.

Randy Lewis

My question is this: How is the debt service for the $8M loan going to be funded? The money for the payments should not accrue from those of us in the rest of the county

Tom Davis

At this point, payment will come from the same sources as other long term debt obligations generated by the Belfair Sewer Project: Reet, .09 and Current Expense funds. Originally, there were several financial and other guardrails around the loan, one of which was to raise the subscriber rate from $98/ERU to $108.14, with annual increases of 3%. But that, along with four other conditions was scrapped the day before the vote.

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