Critical of county's vote on economic-development funds

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 15, 2013 

It has been interesting, but disheartening, to see how the Whatcom County Council has managed the county's Economic Development Investment fund. The fund accrues about $3.2 million each year from the entire county, and last year the council voted to spend $6 million of the EDI funds to help one city, Lynden, expand its sewage treatment plant.

Lynden contributes less than 10 percent of the county's EDI funds, yet received nearly two full years' worth of its revenue. The plant will enable Lynden to consume more water, but even its current water rights are dubious. And farmers with their own uncertain water rights should be wary of Lynden's growing demands - and of the impact Lynden's growth could have on adjacent farmlands. After all, the county is supposed to protect those farmlands, not encourage urban encroachment into them.

The Lynden project was promoted as a jobs creator, but it looks more like favoritism for one small city at the expense of the entire rest of the county. And where is the "economic development?" I understand Everson has shown interest in going after some of that easy county EDI money for itself.

Who voted for the EDI fund's splurge on the Lynden expansion project? Kathy Kershner and Bill Knutzen, among others. Who opposed it? Only Ken Mann and Carl Weimer, and they should be commended for defending the entire county's interests.

Ken Kaliher

Bellingham

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