Who’s watching your money?
That’s the question I have to ask when I think about the Port of Olympia’s decision to spend another $20 million dollars of taxpayer money. Who’s watching our money?
Commissioners want to sell $20 million in bonds to do a number of things around the port. They want to do some storm water treatment. They want to build a new warehouse, do some dredging around the marina and the marine terminal and invest some money in safety improvements at the Olympia airport.
I’m not going to second guess our Commissioners over the need for these projects – - although no one has made a case that such projects are needed.
But, floating bonds means the money to pay for them has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from the taxpayers.
While there will be no immediate increase in property taxes to pay for these bonds, Commissioners have not ruled it out.
We already pay $5 million in property taxes each year to the Port and it seems, we’ve signed a great contract with Weyerhaeuser to export their logs to China. That should be bringing in good sums of money.
Port Commissioners have a great deal of power – second only to County Commissioners. They can raise your property taxes anytime they want and without your consent.
They seem determined to do just that.
This is symptomatic of what’s going on at the Port. I don’t think our Commissioners are really in charge. If they were, they would watch our money more carefully.
The Port has been in a spin lately – - with staff coming and going – lawsuits – disagreements and a lack of accountability. Our Port Commissioners need to get a handle on staffing and do it quickly.
Only one Port Commission seat – - that held by Jeff Davis – - is up for election this year. The Longshoreman’s union will spend as much money as it takes to keep their union brother on the Olympia Port Commission.
His opponent is Sue Gunn – - who has no knowledge of business or port operations and wants only to close down the marine terminal.
It’s not much of a choice for voters. Go with the guy that increased your taxes or go with the woman who wants to close down the port.
But, the Port and its operations are too important to ignore.
Make Davis justify his vote to sell the bonds and make him realize he needs to keep a closer eye on port staff.
Or, make Gunn explain why she wants to close down the marine terminal and how she expects to replace all of the jobs that will be lost if she succeeds.