Op/Ed by Brian Peterson: $8 Million Gift of Public Funds

In the worst economy since the Great Depression, two of Mason County’s Commissioners are considering burdening the county and the Belfair Wastewater system with further irresponsible debt. (Neatherlin is adamantly opposed) This is in spite of the fact that currently, the oversized Belfair sewer plant is financially going backwards by $1.2 million a year and continues to be subsidized annually by county REET funds.

Previously, a forgivable state grant was sought in order to run a main sewer line from Belfair’s plant north to connect to the Port of Bremerton and SKIA land. This project was discussed as a ‘win win’ which would possibly bring 80-100 more ERUs to our sewer system, help it function better (since it’s enormously oversized) and to help fund the expense of the project for years to come.

As of late, the Port of Bremerton is no longer interested in a connection to the Belfair plant. Yet the county is still working to now borrow $8 million dollars (no longer a forgivable grant) to provide sewer to all the land on the hill north of Belfair. Where’s the benefit to Mason County residents who will be paying the bill? Here’s your benefit… A whopping ONE ERU will be added to the system at the MTA Park & Ride. Yes… you read that right… ONE TOILET CONNECTION for local residents for the low low price of just $8 MILLION DOLLARS plus interest on your tax rolls.

Wait… that’s not all! This sewer extension project is designed to serve just ONE landowner on the hill. This project will sewer their family’s lands in North Mason and prepare them for connection to their Kitsap County / City of Bremerton parcels north of the county line. In a sense, the commissioners who choose to support this funding will be ensuring we Mason County taxpayers are funding a project which allows for significant commercial development just over the County line into Kitsap County. Again, why should our Mason County taxes fund Kitsap County infrastructure and one single family’s development plans? Where is the public benefit to this plan?

In short, this is nothing more than a ‘Gift of Public Funds’ to one landowner in North Mason.

Whatever happened to developers paying for their own development? Or at the very least, perhaps the development of a ‘Tax Increment Financing’ district as opposed to a pure gift of $8 million dollars plus interest.
Please call or write your commissioners, and respectfully express your opposition to this proposed gifting of your taxpayer dollars.

Brian Petersen, Belfair