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OPINION | It's all connected
Countywide, leadership had better soon step up to the reality that the citizenry, and business owners, want a proper balance of services and benefits in return for taxes paid. And, that the people are not an ATM to support failing pet projects and local government employees’ renumeration.
Tricky money moves to balance budgets, while most often legal, are a clue to the lack of control and financial understanding within elected leadership and those they appoint to run the day-to-day government for them. Recent examples include the Kitsap County’s 2010 move of nearly $400,000 of indigent veterans’ money into the general fund (with ripple effects today), the continued $300,000 a year subsidy of the financially failed Bremerton Marina project and the City of Bremerton’s 2012 pilfering of otherwise flush utilities accounts, just before a rate increase is studied.
A prime example of the inverted American dream, where the many provide for the few, is the Bremerton Marina. There, owners of yachts and sailboats worth tens of thousands of dollars each, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars each, are subsidized by local property owners and the community’s vast supply of transient renters. The average homeowner, within the Bremerton port district, pays $100 annually, in part, to help support the boating lifestyles and the empty slips. The scheme is made worse by the fact that the port hardly gave notice to property owners that they would pay for marina, which caters to and is marketed to out of town boaters.
The port’s CEO admitted in the June newsletter that the port’s dependence on property taxes is “too high.” Yet, the port continues to give the same answer regarding the failed white elephant that they have given for four years; they didn’t see the recession coming and they continue to “hope” that the economy, and therefore boating, will get better. The port would rather weather the storm subsidizing the marina with general fund dollars squeezed from property owners than raise moorage rates on those using the marina and make the facility self-sufficient as it is supposed to be.
Every public official that says they are waiting for the economy to return to “normal” should be let go at the soonest election. However, it’s partially understandable that today’s leadership would wait for the “good days” to return piles of cash to their government budgets, rather than be brave and look to restructure the way local government works and serves the people under taxation, if you consider two realities. The city and county have long been on the federal dole, which is drying up, and most leaders are Baby Boomers that only know unchecked growth, albeit with minor hiccups along the way. Yet, there is no indication that the economy will return to their version of “normal” anytime while they remain in office.
The last rebuild of the American economy took more than 70 years to reach the 2008 crescendo that has since left the public cupboard bare for the current batch of unwitting leaders.