Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Port of Vancouver raises taxes

The Port of Vancouver is raising taxes without a vote by the public.
Port of Vancouver commissioners approved a resolution Monday night calling for a property tax increase to buy a former aluminum smelting plant.

The three commissioners said they were not comfortable with a tax increase to buy 218 acres owned by Alcoa Inc. and Evergreen Aluminum. But they said Port staff convinced them that it was the best financing option available and that the land deal was too good to pass up.

A consultant told Port officials that industrial development on the property could create 4,700 jobs with an annual $225 million payroll.
Cleaning up decrepit smelters is not a bad idea, nor is economic development.

The salient point is that there is a wingnut drumbeat developing in Clark County that if light rail ever crosses The Columbia without a public vote, it will prove that we are enduring tyranny. This despite the fact that the Columbia River Crossing task force hasn't even voted yet. (The vote is Feb. 27, and while to my understanding it is advisory, it is likely to be an important barometer of what will move forward.)

So let the record show that sometimes governments are empowered to raise taxes and build things without a public vote. I'm not saying whether that's good or bad in this instance, I'm saying that sometimes we all pay for things we might not totally agree with. Barring a referendum, our family will likely contribute hundreds of dollars to economic development in Clark County over the next six years. I'm not thrilled about it, but I'm not calling the Port commissioners communists, either.

I'd imagine that half or more of the residents affected by this new tax will be quite surprised to learn they even live in a port district, let alone know that ports possess special taxing powers denied to schools and libraries.

The irony in regards to CRC is that the port's development plans stand to have something of an impact on the I-5 corridor, especially the so-called "Bridge Influence Area." So as one entity, the CRC, attempts to find solutions to congestion, another (the port) finds it an opportune time to expand.

Which is kind of how things work sometimes, but remember, light rail is the root of all evil in the world. Our Founding Fathers rode buses.

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