Septic System Police versus Island County Sheriffs

Author:Ken Wolf

Thanks to former Island County Commissioners John Dean and Angie Homola, and current Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson, Whidbey and Camano Island residents have a new taxing district designed to spend more of YOUR tax dollars on environmental programs instead of finding a solution to adequately fund a mandated program called Law and Justice.

Many residents may recall the flawed Prop 1 which was shot down by voters on August 17, 2010.

Island County Commissioners John Dean, Angie Homola, and Helen Price-Johnson quickly responded in kind with a special Christmas present called the Clean Water Utility District. This new taxing district is used to fund a total of ten programs. Nine of these programs are environmental programs like Salmon Recovery and Shell Fish Protection yet what many residents don’t know is 13% or $37,700 of the Clean Water Utility tax revenue of $290,000 is earmarked for On-site Septic System Police. That $37,700 by the way, is due to increase in 2014 to $117,000 or 13% of $900,000 the total revenue. The goal of the Septic System Police is “to ensure that septic systems are constructed and maintained properly, with follow-up on complaints and failures.”

Did you know that from 2009 to 2011 only two failures were discovered during the actual inspection process, and fifteen were discovered by the complaint process?

http://www.islandpolitics.org/?p=5236    http://www.islandpolitics.org/?p=6581

Did you know that an Island County resident could be assessed a $25 per day “administrative penalty” for failing to report or inspect their septic systems? Did you know that a $250 per day “administrative penalty” for those residents who fail to correct a failing or problem on-site septic system?  Imagine the Septic System Police, aka “administrative bureaucrat,” ticketing you for failure to file your required septic system inspection report. Keep in mind that this is no ordinary “ticket” like a speeding ticket but a “ticket” that racks up $25 per day!

Don’t forget those folks that are FORCED to pay hundreds of dollars to hire a “professional” to inspect on an annual basis. Should you have an issue with your septic system, large or small, don’t forget to add additional money to cover the cost of a repair permit of $417 for those having a standard system or $572 to repair an alternative system to your overall repair bill.  When it comes to Island County government they sure know how to stick it to their constituents six ways to Sunday!

When researching this subject a recent quote from Carol Dawes, a woman who advocates mandatory curbside recycling, came to mind, “I’m willing to pay whatever I need to pay in order to take care of this planet and this county.” This same theme is evident in the mandatory septic system inspection program, and you can thank Helen Price-Johnson, Angie Homola, and John Dean for providing us with Septic System Police to protect the environment instead of providing more Island County Sheriffs.

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4 comments

  1. avatar

    Ken Wolf wrote: “Many residents may recall the flawed Prop 1 which was shot down by voters on August 17, 2010.”

    This new proposal is simply Prop 1 gussied up to make it appear as if it something entirely different, but it’s the SAME thing all over again.

    I must ,however, credit this thought with its original source, Bill Strowbrdge, who had this to say about Prop 1 back on July 27, 2010, in the WNT:

    “Call their bluff, defeat Prop 1″
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/opinion/letters/99343794.html

    “The county commissioners have us on the wrong road. Their Proposition 1 plan is more of the same. This had been especially frustrating for Island County taxpayers.

    In late 2009, the public repeatedly told the commissioners their thoughts for reducing expenses for the 2010 budget. The commissioners ignored it and did exactly what they had been doing; funding those socially justified, “feel good” programs; not basic safety and service needs.

    The commissioners increased the current expense and road levies 1 percent plus banked capacity. They also agreed to increase the levy for conservation futures, and land preservation programs.

    The commissioners’ ignoring of public input and failing to make the correct decisions last December resulted in them spending over $4,500,000 of the county’s reserve funds. It’s almost totally depleted.

    Once again the commissioners are telling us they are out of money and must increase taxes.

    They conducted forums to inform the public about why the county needs a tax increase, laced with a bunch of scare tactics telling us how bad it’ll be if we don’t approve Prop 1. Those forums ended with Commissioner Dean saying, “The purpose is to provide voters with enough information to make a choice. We are committed to doing whatever voters decide.”

    The commissioners have lost all credibility with their past actions. They are in over their heads. We should not trust them with any additional funds by approving Prop 1. Call Dean’s bluff and see if this time they really will do what the public input tells them we want done!

    Bill Strowbridge

    Oak Harbor”

    Bill Strowbrdige was correct THEN, and the very SAME logic applies today.

    The voters handily DEFEATED Prop 1. In fact…

    “The tax increase went down in greater-than-landslide proportions, with more than 71 percent of voters opposing Prop. 1″

    …That’s a quote from:

    “Lonesome Langley supports Prop. 1 in county vote”
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/101662513.html

    AFTER Prop 1, as Ken Wolf has delineated above, MORE of the same has ensued at Island County, such as creation of a brand new “Clean Water Utility”.

    Here’s some information about current property taxes:

    “How much are property taxes and assessments in unincorporated Island County (North Whidbey) in 2013?”
    http://www.islandpolitics.org/?p=9493

    I recently spoke with Sheriff Mark Brown (R) about this upcoming proposal. After reading Bill Sttowbridge’s above letter from mid-2010.

    I am amazed, as it seems the our Sheriff is now pretty much “channeling” former Island County Commissioner John Dean (D) when speaking about this proposed property tax increase.

    I recall Sheriff Mark Brown saying to me, almost verbatim:

    “The purpose is to provide voters with enough information to make a choice. We are committed to doing whatever voters decide.”

    In other words, whether he will openly admit or not, Mark Brown knows he can make things work WITHOUT this new $2.6 million dollar property tax increase.

    He is already DOING SO, now, and as the economy increases and property values increase, prioritizing those increasing tax dollars towards “law & justice” is what Island County needs to do – not AGAIN say they are “broke”.

    Then, of course, we have County Commissioners.

    The WNT ran: “Law, justice ballot proposal goes to Island County commissioners” http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/205298351.html

    Helen Price-Johnson has apparently never seen any type of a tax increase she did not want to go to bed with.

    Jill-Johnson may have “campaigned on a slate of priority funding for law and justice”, but she seems well on her way to owning the adage that she has never seen a property tax increase she did not want to go to bed with.

    Jill Johnson supported, for example, the OHSD’s recent DOUBLING of their Maintenance and Operations property tax levy. She told me she was “all in” on that property tax increase. Moreover, I don’t recall increasing property taxes as being part of JJ’s “million-sign campaign” for her Commissioner’s seat.

    Voters should say “no” again to Prop 1, or, to whatever it is going to called THIS time around.

    That is, unless you, too, also want to jump into bed along with Helen and Jill in their quest to screw the property owners – AGAIN.

  2. avatar

    As I remember, back in 2010 Sheriff Mark Brown was the lone voice among Republican county leaders — even though nothing in that property tax levy lid lift guaranteed the sheriff would receive a single penny of the money raised by its passage. After the failure of Prop 1, Sheriff Brown asked county commissioners to eliminate all funding for programs not specifically required by law, something that obviously didn’t happened. I believe this was primarily due to the fact that ex-Commissioner Homola and Commissioner Helen Price Johnson had the majority of votes and together they funded what they considered “essential services” programs: The Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Beach Watchers, Master Gardeners, Shore Stewards, Waste Wise, etc. Any new attempt by the county to establish yet another tax levy lift will again fail, and it will in no way be because citizens do not support public safety or the Island County Sheriff’s Office. It will fail because of (a) our lousy local/national economy, and (b) because, instead of restructuring services for greater efficiency, the Commissioners have historically refused to (1) properly prioritize their budget, (2) eliminate non-mandated program spending, and (3) do the job they were hired, and swore, to do — primarily, exercise responsible financial management of tax payer dollars for necessary and mandated county services.

    1. avatar

      You make some great points. Here’s what I just sent off to the WNT:

      “71% of voters shot down Island County’s Prop 1 property tax levy on August 17, 2010.

      Any “law and justice” $2.6 million fall ballot measure is simply Prop 1 gussied up to make it appear as if it is something entirely different, but it’s the SAME thing all over again and voters should reject it, too.

      Prop 1 supporters conducted forums to inform the public about why the county needed a tax increase, laced with a bunch of scare tactics telling us how bad it would be if we did not approve Prop 1. Those forums ended with Commissioner Dean saying, “The purpose is to provide voters with enough information to make a choice. We are committed to doing whatever voters decide.”

      After Prop 1’s defeat, the Island County Commissioners simply created a brand new “Clean Water Utility” taxing district and took more property tax revenue anyway!

      It seems Sheriff Mark Brown is now pretty much “channeling” former Island County Commissioner John Dean. When speaking to me recently about this proposed property tax increase, Sheriff Mark Brown said, almost verbatim: “The purpose is to provide voters with enough information to make a choice. We are committed to doing whatever voters decide.”

      As the economy improves and property values increase, prioritizing those increasing tax dollars towards “law and justice” is what Island County needs to do – not AGAIN raise property taxes.

      Voters should say “no” again to Prop 1, or to whatever it is going to be called THIS time around.”

  3. avatar

    Now that Dean and Homola are gone and Price Johnson might be the minority, it’s time to start lobbying Olympia to eliminate all unfunded mandates, and for Island County to eliminate its dependency for revenue via grants.

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