Another fine mess we've gotten into
October 3, 2008 · Updated 12:51 AM
I'm sorry, but I have tried to contain my concern for new taxes, open space and a lack of local livable-wage jobs about long enough. My head is about to explode, and yes, I have taken my blood-pressure medication.
I watched the television with interest the other day as several of the state's top Democrats were pitching their transportation plan. Guess what, the first word out of their mouths was the dreaded "T" word - or for those of us a little slower, "taxes." Yep, the solution to our transportation tribulation is taxes, an increase in the gas tax and an increase in vehicle taxes. Luckily, it sounds like we will have the opportunity to vote on any new taxes. If the opportunity isn't given, then it's time to vote those in favor of imposing them on us out of office.
Taxes. Why am I personally getting tired of the "T" word? Well, property taxes continue to increase each year. Our gas taxes are already some of the highest in the country. Washingtonians overwhelmingly voted to reduce vehicle taxes, and the circumstances for the problems with transportation can largely be found with our desire to preserve open space and a lack of focus on basic infrastructure by government.
Here in the Snoqualmie Valley, we pat ourselves on the back each time a chunk of land is preserved for posterity. Preserve rural character, we say. Well, guess what, folks, the second part of preserve rural character is pay more taxes. It's obvious at all levels of government that Snoqualmie Valley is quickly becoming the playground for Puget Sound residents. When projects are put forth that will create new livable-wage jobs, the parcels of land proposed for development are snatched up with tax dollars and private contributions.
By the way, for those interested, I have a half-acre parcel that I want to build a high-rise on. Plans are in the works, so I figure the property is worth about, oh, $10 million. Any takers?
Seriously, we need to revise growth management in King County and realize that we cannot afford to preserve everything. Governments at both the state and county levels are running in the red. Our infrastructure, such as roads, is in shambles, and the only solution put forth is to raise taxes.
Before we vote on new taxes, maybe we need to completely revamp the Department of Transportation. When was the last time there was a top-to-bottom review of the department?
Let's also send a clear message to our representatives at all levels that fiscal responsibility should take precedent over preserving rural character. I keep hearing "rural character" as justification for the direction we are going, but if people were asked to pay significantly more in taxes to preserve rural character along with emergency service levies, school levies, etc., would they have voted differently? My guess would be yes.
Taxes, transportation and open space: They are all tied together and cannot be thought of separately. So what is the right balance?