by Goldy, 02/05/2009, 9:47 AM

Yesterday the Seattle Times reported on the fiscal crisis in rural Pend Oreille County, where declining tax revenues and stingy voters have forced local officials to seek a bailout from Seattle City Light, which owns and operates the profitable Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River in the northeast corner of the state.

Well… maybe “seek a bailout” isn’t the right term.

To compensate Pend Oreille County, Seattle pays an annual fee, which last year was $1.3 million. Now, leaders of this poor, sparsely populated and isolated county want to share in the riches Seattle has found on their river. They’re pressuring Seattle to triple its annual fee.

“It’s kind of like we’re the cow and they’re getting the milk from the cow in our barn,” said County Commissioner Laura Merrill, “and so there is an impact in Pend Oreille County.”

No, it’s kinda like Pend Oreille is a county in which there’s a dairy farm, and the owner of the farm is getting the milk from the cows in their barn. But, whatever.

City Light owns that dam, and took a big risk back in 1964, investing millions of dollars constructing the dam and 300 miles of transmission lines at a time when electricity was relatively cheap.  It’s the kind of public investment and forethought that has long delivered Seattle residents some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation.

And in return, Pend Oreille County got well-paid jobs, a recreational lake and new school buildings… not to mention about $1.3 million in annual impact fees, plus cheap, wholesale electricity that saves county ratepayers about $20 million a year… all told, an average of about $1,615 in direct cash benefits annually for every man, woman and child in Pend Oreille.

That was the deal.  Signed, sealed and delivered.

It’s not that I don’t have empathy for Pend Oreille County’s current predicament—I do, and I wouldn’t necessarily oppose some sort of grant to help them out.  But it’s a predicament they got themselves into, and I’m getting pretty damn sick and tired of rural Washingtonians blaming Seattle residents like me for all of their problems.

In Pend Oreille County, politicians and residents harbor some resentment toward Seattle. They feel the west side of the state doesn’t understand their rural lifestyle or their conservative politics. They’re outnumbered in the Legislature. Regardless, they find themselves somewhat dependent on Seattle.

Seattle paid for the county’s school for grades 7-12 as part of the original deal in the 1960s to build the dam. Since then, enrollment in the Selkirk Consolidated School District No. 70 has fallen by nearly half, and seven bond measures to remodel the school have failed.

It’s not Seattle’s fault that Pend Oreille voters refuse to tax themselves for the services they need, nor that the state has fewer and fewer resources to help them out.  Seattle taxpayer… City Light ratepayer… we’re one and the same… and if Pend Oreille wanted more of our money, perhaps they shouldn’t have voted for I-695 by a better than 2-1 margin, eliminating most of the state car tab, and with it, the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales tax equalization transfers on which rural communities had long relied to help balance their budgets?  And if they wanted a little sympathy from Seattleites like me, perhaps they shouldn’t have passed I-776 by a 69% margin, an initiative that had absolutely no impact on Pend Oreille taxpayers, but was successfully marketed by Tim Eyman as a “Fuck Seattle” measure that would keep us from taxing ourselves to build the light rail system we wanted.

They harbor resentment toward us? For what… building their infrastructure and subsidizing their public services?  If the Boundary Dam was owned by a corporation, well, that’s capitalism baby, and I doubt you’d see Pend Oreille have much success pressuring shareholders to triple their payments, you know… just because.  But since it’s owned by Seattle ratepayers, we should feel all guilty and everything over how well our investment paid off, and just fork over a share of the profits?  I don’t think so.

Rural governments and the communities they serve are in crisis statewide, many on the verge of insolvency, and it’s a crisis that the state needs to address collectively.  But we’ll never move closer to a lasting solution until elected and civic leaders throughout rest of the state stop lazily blaming Seattle for all of their woes, and start taking a realistic tally of what it actually costs to provide the public services their communities need and want.

46 Responses to “Damn Seattle”

1. YLB spews:

Gee I thought right wingers don’t ask for “handouts”.

What say you wingnuts?

2. slingshot spews:

The Pend Oreille is a tributary of the Columbia. So actually, Seattleites should have to pay every county the Columbia runs through, too. And what about Oregon? The Columbia runs along Oregon. Seattleites should have to pay Oregon, as well. And that water flows into the Pacific which in turn mixes eventually with all the oceans of the globe. So Seattle should really pay every country in the world with a coastline. And if you think about it, that oceanic water evaporates and rains over most of the globe. So really, Seattle should just pay everyone.

Global financial meltdown averted.

3. John425 spews:

Yet, while I live in Redmond, I’ll be taxed for your dumbass Big Dig tunnel in Seattle.

Isn’t social service help for the less fortunate a “progressive” thing?

4. Roger Rabbit spews:

” … all told, an average of about $1,615 in direct cash benefits annually for every man, woman and child in Pend Oreille.”

Hmmm, that’s roughly equal to what Alaskans got from their oil hoard when the rest of us were paying $150 per barrel. Sounds like those folks over in POC have a pretty good thing going for themselves. If it gets any jucier, pretty soon they’ll be overrun with Alaskan migrants.

5. Goldy spews:

John @3,

A) I support the less expensive surface/transit option, not the tunnel… though either solution would benefit the entire region.

B) You can’t really ask for a handout from Seattle with one hand, while with the other, preventing us from raising the revenues needed to help you. It’s a two way street.

6. Roger Rabbit spews:

“It’s not Seattle’s fault that Pend Oreille voters refuse to tax themselves for the services they need, nor that the state has fewer and fewer resources to help them out.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that conservatives move to places like that to get away from taxes, public schools, paved roads, libraries, hospitals, and all the other civilized amenities they’re opposed to. So why should City Light customers pay higher rates to impose on them the very things they don’t want?

7. Roger Rabbit spews:

@1 Where did you get that idea? Wingers are the biggest welfare queens on the planet. Nationwide, almost all of the red states get more federal money than they pay in federal taxes, and almost all of the blue states pay more federal taxes than they get back in federal money. See the pattern there?

8. Blue John spews:

Great piece. I agree with your take on the situation. They don’t want to pay the taxes but they want the services. Typical republicans.

9. Roger Rabbit spews:

@3 But you still haven’t told us how you feel about paying more for electricity to subsidize rednecks on the other side of the state.

10. Roger Rabbit spews:

Oh, and what do you want to bet that Pend Oreilles County residents are routinely crossing into Idaho to avoid paying Washington’s sales tax?

11. Roger Rabbit spews:

@8 Like I said, welfare queens. Show me an eastern Washington wingnut and I’ll show you a tin cup.

The most outrageous ripoff of all was the scheme to build a series of giant irrigation water reservoirs in eastern Washington, at a cost exceeding $20 billion, to benefit a few thousand agriculturists. To be paid for by the feds, the state — anybody but themselves.

When it comes to demanding handouts, no one has as the chutzpah of eastern Washington Republicans.

12. Mr. Cynical spews:

Good thing the Seattle Luddites don’t need electricity. You KLOWNS seem to want to revert back to the 1920′s Depression Era by your actions. Progressive, MY ASS!

13. slingshot spews:

Mr. Clynical again displays his profound ability to absorb and assess a set of facts.

14. Moag spews:

This is yet another good reason to separate western and eastern Washington into two states. We keep our tax money, and they watch their local government and economy collapse, just like they seem to want.

15. Proud To Be An Ass spews:

Hey, Goldy. You ought to get some(conservative)body from that County (a real resident) to give you a reply and see if there is any possibility of a dialog.

The most egregious one is their vote for I-776. How do they explain that one? Maybe it should have been a County option, eh?

But they worship low wages over there, and lo and behold that is what they got. No suprise here.

Well said.

16. RobertSeattle spews:

A county with 12K residents? It should merge with an adjoining county and be done with it.

17. Proud To Be An Ass spews:

@12: Idiot. Luddites would want to dynamite the dam, but whatever. Your ignorance is indeed profound.

18. ByeByeGOP spews:

YES it’s kind of ironic that all over the state – the right wing turds want Seattle money – all the while calling Seattle a “communist” city.

If it were up to me. . . once you crossed the mountains you’d be on your own – NOT ONE DIME of West WA tax money for the turds in the East. They get shit. They deserve shit. Fuck em.

As for this story – while it’s for a different reason – it’s the same old story. When it comes to money – most folks, ESPECIALLY folks in rural areas, have fewer principled.

19. Roger Rabbit spews:

@12 We’ve been getting the electricity for some time. Since 1964 or thereabouts. It’s in the fine print of Goldy’s article.

20. Marvin Stamn spews:

My avatar is my property in Metaline falls, up the road from the boundary dam. Glad to hear that the seattle people don’t like their taxes being spent on me. I wouldn’t mind more $$ being “given” to keep the road between ione and colville de-iced, especially since seattle isn’t concerned about keeping their roads free of ice and snow.
 
I thought liberals liked high taxes. Oops, considering all the tax deadbeats that obama has picked I guess the truth is democrats only like taxes on other people.

21. Marvin Stamn spews:

I find it very telling that when republicans compplain about high taxes and their tax money going to pay welfare that lefties whine it’s about helping people.
 
Yet when it’s time for lefties to help out people they don’t agree with they whine about that.
 
Democrats = hypocrites

22. Marvin Stamn spews:

Goldy whined:
And if they wanted a little sympathy from Seattleites like me, perhaps they shouldn’t have passed I-776 by a 69% margin, an initiative that had absolutely no impact on Pend Oreille taxpayers

 
Should people on welfare not be allowed to vote on measures since they are not paying any taxes to support what they vote on?
 
Should renters not be allowed to vote on any measures that would increase taxes on homeowners?

23. Statistics and Damn Statistics spews:

#21 – “when republicans complain about high taxes and their tax money going to pay welfare”

Rural eastern Washington republicans are NOT paying for “welfare”…or ANYTHING else for that matter. They’re welfare queens that COMPLAIN about welfare queens. FAR more tax money goes INTO that area than out of it. That’s the point. Those little ‘towns’ of 2,000 don’t generate enough tax revenue to even hire a full time street sweeper, much less have paved roads, telephones lines, etc. The ONLY reason they don’t have dirt streets and 1870 old west services is because their “lifestyle choice” of living in the country but wanting modern convenience is subsidized by everyone in the cities.

If you want to live like like an old west cowboy fine, hunt your food, dig a well for water…COOL! But if you want AT&T to run phone lines to your house in the middle of nowhere…if you want the U.S. Post office drive 20 miles up a road to drop off 2 letters to you…if you want paved road, fire/ambulance service, libraries, schools, hospitals and so forth…for a town can isn’t economically large enough to tax itself for those services, then you’re asking people you’re spitting on to give you money for your optional “lifestyle choice”. ;-)

24. Ekim spews:

Marvin Stamn = Goat Fucker Extraordinaire

25. Statistics and Damn Statistics spews:

#21 – “Yet when it’s time for lefties to help out people they don’t agree with they whine about that.”

No quite. I don’t mind giving the welfare to eastern Washington if they need it, but what I resent is them spitting at me while I do it. What I resent is someone calling themselves the “real America”, and essentially saying to me, “you’re not a real American, just a lefty commie fag….now GIVE ME MONEY!”

How ’bout eastern Washington getting off their f**king high horse (literally) and saying “thank you Seattle for making my lifestyle possible”.

26. HappyHeathen spews:

I lived there during the time the dam was built. City Light built the new High School and the three little towns consolidated their high school. We had 52 kids graduate in our class. I think they have about 18 now. (that’s for the whole end of the county)

There used to be some serious mining, a cement plant and logging going on up there. All gone now. The only people left are the ones who work at the two dams, retired people and a few other hanger ons. Last I heard you have to drive 50 miles to Newport or to Spokane to see a doctor.

When the dam was built jobs were needed and a lot of the locals made out like flint. When the dam was finished it was like a sucking sound. Everyone left for the most part. The little hospital closed down and a lot of the small little houses were taken down as people left.

The water behind the dam didn’t provide much of a recreation opportunity. Steep canyons on both sides.

The Pend Oreille River is one of two that runs from South to North. It goes on up into Canada and turns around and comes back into the Columbia River. (in case anyone looked at a map this should help)

Anyway, the people are conservative I suppose. I just know I stopped getting emails from a bunch of them when they found out I was voting for Obama. But how many keep God on our coins emails can one delete anyway?

27. Biggus Dickus spews:

EG:
They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers.

LORETTA:
And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

REG:
Yeah.

LORETTA:
And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’
fathers.

REG:
Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES:
The aqueduct?

REG:
What?

XERXES:
The aqueduct.

REG:
Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3:
And the sanitation.

LORETTA:
Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?

REG:
Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.

MATTHIAS:
And the roads.

REG:
Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads–

COMMANDO:
Irrigation.

XERXES:
Medicine.

COMMANDOS:
Huh? Heh? Huh…

COMMANDO #2:
Education.

COMMANDOS:
Ohh…

REG:
Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

COMMANDO #1:
And the wine.

COMMANDOS:
Oh, yes. Yeah…

FRANCIS:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

COMMANDO:
Public baths.

LORETTA:
And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

FRANCIS:
Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it. They’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

COMMANDOS:
Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

REG:
All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

28. YLB spews:

I wouldn’t mind more $$ being “given” to keep the road between ione and colville de-iced, especially since seattle isn’t concerned about keeping their roads free of ice and snow

Of course you don’t mind. You’re fishing for a handout. Not a chance you’d tax yourself for that.

What happened to “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”? Work with your hands!!!

Hypocrisy, thy name is right winger.

29. EvergreenRailfan spews:

16,

I think Pend Orielle County broke off from Spokane County in the first place.

30. YLB spews:

considering all the tax deadbeats

Like Republican swift-boater Sam Wyly?

Oh, sorry he’s not a deadbeat. A deadbeat is just slow on paying up.

He’s a cheater.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/08/01/business/tax.php

31. Roger Rabbit spews:

@20 “the truth is democrats only like taxes on other people”

It appears we have something in common with Republicans after all.

32. Roger Rabbit spews:

@21 “when it’s time for lefties to help out people they don’t agree with they whine about that”

As usual, Stamn’s got things completely ass-backwards. King County has been sending $125 million a year of gas taxes to the red counties for years without complaint. Hell, we don’t even expect any gratitude from you red county freeloaders.

33. Marvin Stamn spews:

28. YLB spews:
Of course you don’t mind. You’re fishing for a handout. Not a chance you’d tax yourself for that.

 
Tax myself? When I’m up there during the winter I drive a 4 wheel drive truck with snow tires. I have no problems getting around.
 
I would rather the government stay away. The less government, the less taxes. The less taxes, the less liberals.
Besides, liberals can’t stand living in areas like this. For proof, look how high obama has the thermostat up in the white house. Or look how liberals whine about alaska killing wolves because they have no idea about nature.

34. Marvin Stamn spews:

30. YLB spews:
considering all the tax deadbeats
Like Republican swift-boater Sam Wyly?

 
Once again proving you don’t get it.
 
Sam isn’t in the business of increasing my taxes.
 
Sam doesn’t preach about the benefits of high taxes.
 
So it gets down to the same thing as larry craig… it’s about the hypocrisy. Remember when the left said it was okay to be gay and toe tap in public bathrooms, unless you preached against homosexuality like larry did. Then it becomes all about the hypocrisy.

35. Marvin Stamn spews:

24. Ekim spews:
Marvin Stamn = Goat Fucker Extraordinaire

  
Brilliant comeback.
 
Once again proving that the democrat controlled schools in seattle are failing.

36. YLB spews:

34 – You’re wrong fool. If Sam doesn’t pay his taxes, you, your kids or grandkids end up paying FOR him.

Then on top of it all. Sam doesn’t want HIS KIDS to pay a dime either of his illegal gains when he’s gone even though I’m sure they’ve enjoyed all the benefits that come with having a rich dad.

You couldn’t even begin to get it.

37. Marvin Stamn spews:

30. YLB spews:
A deadbeat is just slow on paying up.

  
So that would make obama a deadbeat for not paying his parking tickets until he was running for president 20+ years later?
  
BOSTON — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.
 
The Illinois Senator shelled out $375 in January _ two weeks before he officially launched his presidential campaign _ to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.

 
Change = obama finally paid his bills.
 
Hope = obama selecting more tax cheaters for his cabinet so they can become tax deadbeats.

38. YLB spews:

Tax myself? When I’m up there during the winter I drive a 4 wheel drive truck with snow tires. I have no problems getting around…
I wouldn’t mind more $$ being “given” to keep the road between ione and colville de-iced,

ehhh. Nope you’re still fishing for a handout for the county where you have property.

I’m sure you were against the bond issue for the crumbling schools there. How right wing of you.

39. YLB spews:

37 – $375 for 15 tickets. That’s cheap. No wonder people in Illinois are tempted to ignore the law.

I’m sure you did in the 55mph days.

If that’s the best you got on Obama, it’s pretty thin gruel. I hope it keeps you warm.

40. Marvin Stamn spews:

36. YLB spews:
34 – You’re wrong fool. If Sam doesn’t pay his taxes, you, your kids or grandkids end up paying FOR him.

 
That means I’ve been paying for the tax cheaters turned deadbeats that obama wanted in his cabinet. Can I get a refund now tht the deadbeats have paid their debts?

Then on top of it all. Sam doesn’t want HIS KIDS to pay a dime either of his illegal gains when he’s gone even though I’m sure they’ve enjoyed all the benefits that come with having a rich dad.

 
If they are illegal gains why should they pay taxes on it? It’s called the Kennedy family tax plan. Do you think that while teddy was showing up drunk for work he paid the back taxes on his daddy’s illegal moonshine business?
 

You couldn’t even begin to get it.

  
Said by someone defending democrat tax cheaters.
 
Priceless.

41. Broadway Joe spews:

Actually Pend Oreille County was created out of Stevens County. One can sympathize with the plight they’re suffering, but since they pretty much did it to themselves by refusing to pay for services, and (apparently) relying almost entirely on their payment from SCL to pay for government services, they’ve been hoisted by their own petard. Not to mention their own ignorance and incompetence. And the funny thing is that politics isn’t even an issue here – it’s just an excuse to cover up the ignorance and incompetence.

Considering that they’re right next door to the white-suprmeacists and the other doorknobs up in Sandpoint, perhaps they should join northern Idaho and secede from the Union….

42. Marvin Stamn spews:

39. YLB spews:
37 – $375 for 15 tickets. That’s cheap. No wonder people in Illinois are tempted to ignore the law.

 
You do understand they eliminated the penalities and interest. Must be nice to be a member of the ruling class. One set of rules for taxpayers, a different set of rules for democrats.

I’m sure you did in the 55mph days.

 
Nope. And when caught, I paid my fines. Which explains why lefties hate me.
 

If that’s the best you got on Obama, it’s pretty thin gruel. I hope it keeps you warm.

 
It’s true, unlike the fake bush memo that rather tried to peddle to the country.
 
Speaking of keeping warm… I’m sure you heard about obama keeping the white house warm enough to grow orchids. It seems like just a couple months ago when he was telling the country to keep their thermostats down.
 
Go ahead and defend him. Maybe confess how skin thinned he is and need the temp high.
 
Did bush ever call out randi rhodes like obama did to rush? Nothing like having a leader so skin-thinned.

43. Steve spews:

@42 “Must be nice to be a member of the ruling class. One set of rules for taxpayers, a different set of rules for democrats.”

How situational of you. Where was your whining about rules when Republicans ruled the earth?

44. ratcityreprobate spews:

Problem is the folk over there spend all their money on meth and then they don’t have enough left to buy groceries or fix their school.

45. Roger Rabbit spews:

Next to warmongers and torturers, the Swift Boaters are the lowest of all the Republican scum.

46. YLB spews:

Said by someone defending democrat tax cheaters.

http://www.republicanoffenders.com/

Said by the most blockheaded of Republican apologists.

priceless.