At a recent candidate forum, Island County Commissioner Price Johnson remarked that the Clean Water Utility tax had been crafted to mitigate previous cuts to the Law and Justice budget. The taxing utility was enacted administratively without a consenting vote by the citizens under the authority of RCW 36.89.080. That law dealt with storm water control, and monies could be “used only for” control measures.
Storm water can be more than rainwater running off roofs and roads. The water must go somewhere. The tax supplanted funds that went to control drainage, but it also followed the storm water into other areas – surface water monitoring, critical areas enforcement, low-impact development, and watershed planning. It followed the surface water as it seeped into groundwater. It mandated septic tank inspections because the water might pick up sewage. The runoff runs into waters where the salmon and shellfish play, so the ordinance swept up their regulation. These renewed and expanded programs were floated on the new tax, and the previous funds were flushed into other programs (although I don’t recall seeing any more deputies on the road).
But why stop there? Cows drink the water, so the tax could cover Public Health monitoring of milk and the stores that sell it. People drink the water, so all of the Public Health budget could be supplanted.
What is the proper ambit of government “management” of everyone’s life? Like storm water seeping into ground water, top-down control seeps into the aquifer of private decision-making that supplies community life. The apparent benefits of government regulation are counteracted by the unseen costs of unregulated government seepage. The dike around proper government may be erected arbitrarily, but it must be erected if society is not to drown in the rising flood of top-down control.
Vote for Jeff Lauderdale to begin building that dike.