The Montesano Citizen Street Taskforce is now approaching the City Council with and a hands-in-the-air, we-give-up solution to filling the pot holes around this place. It is sort of confusing, but in a nutshell, they want to pass the buck and try and float a bond of some sort to you and me, the poor unfortunate slobs that own a home in the city limits.
Among the solution talked about is a bond valued at around $20 million. This is enough not just to fix the potholes, but to pretty much tear up everything and build new streets. And I mean everything. If you have ever played the computer game Sim City you will get the idea.
I guess I really need to start reading The Vidette first thing when it comes out. I might start getting ahead of it as I understand you can buy a copy from the machine in front of their office on Wednesday evening. Last Thursday morning, still in my slippers and on my first cup of coffee, the phone started ringing. Then the emails.
One of the things that comes along with writing regularly for the opinion page here is that, well, people have opinions. And they share them with me. Often. And with vigor.
The topic du jour this week was the article in The Vidette concerning the street taskforce.
Through decades of financial mismanagement, the city claims they don’t have any money. The solution being brought forward — increase the property taxes by as much as $840 per year for the typical $225,000 home in Montesano for as many as 20 years. For most residents, the homes are worth even more and the tax bill will be even more. And the dodge will be that the council won’t be the ones to actually increase taxes. They will float the bond and you and I get to decide.
Mayor Ken Estes says the question of the potential property increase will go before the City Council for consideration at 7 p.m., April 8 at Montesano City Hall. There will be two public comment periods like usual during the meeting.
By voting to even place the bond up, the council will be voting to try and get this thing through. That is a thinly veiled covering your you-know-what political tactic that isn’t going to work this time.
I have to ask. Is there any limit to the number of hands reaching into our pockets? The county recently dipped in to do its road levy shift again this year, so we here in Montesano will be paying more in property taxes even though we don’t use the rural roads as much as those who actually live in the rural areas. The new Grays Harbor Community Hospital drive is going to add another $150 to the tax bill. And it goes on.
The people calling me are firmly convinced that there is a war going on against the elderly and lower-waged working stiffs here in Montesano. The well-off people on the hill just don’t like those old houses around town with a feeling that those old people on a fixed income need to go. They just don’t fit in with this new vision that some here want to establish. Frankly, I can’t argue with them.
The disconnect is growing. I repeatedly told many to not call me, call City Hall. I kept hearing that they are, and I quote, “scared to death of them.” Again, I can’t argue with their logic.
For years, it has been well known that upsetting the wrong person in the city will get you on a list you don’t want to be on. Personally, I am on several of them. I just don’t care anymore. I do, however, sympathize with their feelings. Being older and on a fixed social security payment averaging $12,000 a year and trying desperately to hold on to your home is frightening; especially frightening when those elected to protect you align themselves publicly with the swells in the fancy houses. Like it or not, that is the perception that may have merit. Who in their right mind would even consider threatening the homes of young families and older folks other than those who are well off financially and, frankly, can’t or don’t want to relate?
Personally, I trust this bunch at City Hall with $20 million to throw at the streets as much as I do a man with a pony tail or people who wear thumb rings. We can’t even supervise a contractor to remake the intersection downtown without lawsuits and getting it right.
The same darn-the-cost, latte-drinking crowd that wanted to turn downtown into a new Port Townsend, now wants to tear up virtually every street in the city and charge every single homeowner here $20,000 to $40,000 over the next 20 years or so are back at it again.
I’m no street expert, but exactly how much does a guy with a shovel and a truck full of pot hole cement cost anyway? We sure could use those 8,000-plus hours of porn-watching time we lost about now.
I don’t personally like sneaky things. The Montesano City Council floating the tactic of staying above it all and just putting the bond out for the voters to decide is, in my opinion, cowardly. If you are spending more than you take in — quit spending.
The outlined new taxes coming are not all we have to immediately worry about. Trust me, the school district will want more money shortly. The police department will want something. The fire department will want something. They all always do. I almost forgot, hasn’t the mayor been telling us to get ready for a new stormwater or water treatment system? I assume they will want to raise our property taxes for that project as well.
Just how much is enough?
Tom Frederiksen grew up in Montesano and lives here today with an active blog at montesanotoday.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.