Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, May 09, 2008

"New fees may stymie growth"

Gordon Forgey, publisher of the Whitman County Gazette, had another great editorial in yesterday's edition of the Gazette.

Forgey provides a précis of growth in Pullman over the last thirty, what went wrong (driving business ovre to Moscow) and what went right (SEL.)

As Forgey points out, there has been opposition to recent growth and Pullman by the birkendorks as they are losing their power now that the university is no the be-all end-all in Pullman any longer. But their power to stop growth is minimal, and getting even more minimal all the time.

No, it really takes a good government bureaucracy to bring everything to a screaming halt. I love Gordon's term "The Boeing Syndrome." Welcome to Washington, the Evergreen State. That green represents treehuggers, not money.
Pullman is gradually gaining ground as a regional center. Aside from Washington State University, Pullman has long been overshadowed by Moscow, Idaho. Moscow is where people went to shop, dine and be entertained.

Pullman and Whitman County, more or less, let it happen. In local terms Pullman was Clarkston to Moscow’s Lewiston. For years, the business community of Pullman was smaller than its population would indicate, so much was leaving the city.

The change from being the step-sister of the Palouse has been steady, but slow. Schweitzer Engineering and other new companies have brought a new strength to the local economy. Pullman is no longer just a university town. New residential areas have been opened up. Slowly, new retail opportunities have given city and county consumers a reason to shop there. A new retail center outside the city will give more opportunities as well as generate new taxes that will benefit everyone in the county.

The changes and some proposed upcoming changes have been slow and steady. The city is gradually changing. The growth in Pullman has not been without controversy and protest.

A new complication has been added. Stormwater fees, the result of state and federal mandates, may slow growth in and around the city. All existing and new impervious surfaces that generate runoff into storm drains could face new fees.

Mitigation of the problem is expected to cost over four million dollars. That mitigation effort will have to be paid for by new fees.

Counties, cities and individual residents and businesses must be environmentally responsible. Pullman, in some respects, needs to clean up long standing pollution problems. Still, there has to be a better way to solve just a part of those probems than to mandate assessements on all pre-existing estabishments.

It is the Boeing Syndrome—take what you can and worry about how it affects business in the future. As we all know, Boeing is headquartered now in Chicago and has expanded its operations in Kansas.

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