Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, November 02, 2007

"A check, a smile, and a big price tag"

This was a fabulous editorial from Steve McClure in last Monday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News smacking down the Department of Ecology:
Remember that poor guy from the Washington State Department of Ecology who had to tell the Pullman City Council earlier this year the city was getting smacked with serious stormwater regulations?

We do.

He stood his ground at City Hall with nothing but the party line but offered up a $75,000 grant like it was Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.

That 75 grand seemed like it was better than nothing as the city came to grips with regulations to manage the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff within Pullman.

Now that the initial price tag has been attached to the process, however, that $75,000 seems like it’s pretty doggone close to nothing.

It’s going to cost the city $4.4 million over the next five years to pay for all the requirements in the permit process.

The state loves to bang the drum of indignation when the federal government passes down edicts without attaching any money to pay for new programs and rules. For some reason, though, the state doesn’t seem to have a problem doing the same thing to local governments.

In Pullman, that could lead to the creation of a utility district, which will collect a tariff from property owners in a way similar to water and sewer services. The city also can tack on a fee for developers and have them pay to bring new construction areas up to permit standards.

Apparently, the folks at Ecology don’t think it’s a problem to have local taxpayers make up the $4,325,000 difference.

We don’t usually cover check passings. We might make an exception if someone from Olympia wants to swing through Pullman to present an oversized voucher for that $75,000. That would be something to see — particularly if Gov. Chris Gregoire or another notable politician were to make the journey.

We’d like to see if they could actually pull off the exchange with a smile on their face.

Of course, they can afford to smile. They’re not the ones who have to foot the bill.

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