So the Federal Office of Benevolent Money Disbursement wants to send $139 million dollars our way. All we have to do is agree to stick it to the folks who travel the Evergreen Point Bridge.
Specifically, if the state agrees to put a toll on that stretch of 520 within the next two years, the feds will cut the check. The idea here is to get a little bit of a head start on raising the money that will eventually be needed to replace the floating bridge.
Let’s see: With the Federal Office of Benevolent Money Disbursement whacking $139 million off the cost of a new bridge; with the new bridge estimated to cost, oh, let’s say $5 billion; why that only leaves us holding the bag for an additional $4,861,000,000.
Now, tell me: Who in their right mind could turn down a deal like that?
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, I’m already paying .37 cents in taxes for every gallon of gas I buy.” And you’re thinking that you’re forking over all that extra annual cash for those vehicle weight fees on passenger cars and light trucks, and don’t forget that 75 bucks a year all you Winnebago vagabonds cough up.
You’re thinking that the 520 bridge is long ago bought and paid for and that by gum, by gosh, by golly, it just doesn’t feel right for you to have to pay a toll for a new bridge that’s still a ways down the line.
To which the folks at the Federal Office of Benevolent Money Disbursement simply say, “Oh, posh!”
Local elected officials aren’t saying much, mostly because they don’t want to rile you up to the point where you might start thinking unkindly about that $14.5 billion roads plan measure that is coming up on the November ballot. That’s the money they say is needed to pay for highway lanes that can’t be funded by that .37 cents a gallon gas tax, or those vehicle weight fees, or that motor home fee.
But while they aren’t saying much, I’ll bet local elected officials are thinking how fortuitous it is that the folks at the Federal Office of Benevolent Money Disbursement are conditioning you and me to the idea of paying taxes to build new bridges and then having us pay tolls if we want to use them. You’ve gotta admit, that’s some pretty crafty finagling.
All that having been said, I must admit to a certain level of dissatisfaction in respect to how all this is evolving. I mean, I worry if all the above mentioned folks are actually collecting money enough from us to get all this work done.
With that in mind, I have what I believe to be a much more resourceful and efficient plan. Instead of having to continuously pester us with requests for higher taxes; instead of coming to us, hat in hand, with ballot measures that never seem to cover everything we covet; instead of imposing tolls and fees, how about this: We send them our paychecks; they send us back what they don’t use.
Because I think they’ve shown us they can be trusted.
Ken Schram is a KOMO-TV and radio commentator whose radio feature with John Carlson, “The Commentators,” airs weekdays on AM 570 KVI. Schram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org