When a story has resonance with a readership, it’s said to have legs. Last month’s story — “Unincorporated Adams County up in arms over storm water fee fiasco” — goes one appendage further, propelled by fins into the most controversial item I’ve put together in years.
The decision by the Adams County Commission to institute a storm water utility and bill residents for the privilege is a hugely unpopular move among residents of the unincorporated county.
Charges in the hundreds of dollars began appearing in mailboxes, tucked into annual tax statements. Disguised not so ingeniously as fees, the stormwater utility “fee” stinks of yet another attempt by the county to sidestep the voting public and institute their will by a simple two out of three majority.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it must be… a tax.
Voted into play largely by the odious and overshadowing pair of outgoing commissioners Alice Nichol and Skip Fischer, the measure conveniently leaves behind no responsible parties to blame for the mess. It also adds a projected $5.3 million in annual revenue to county coffers.
Community meetings concerning the “fee” drew standing room only crowds, bitter at the perception of manipulation by a county long mired in allegations of preference and fraud. Adding to the discord, rollout of the program appears sloppy to the point of stupidity, with the utility admitting that each and every of the 27,000 properties in the unincorporated will require a second hands-on county review for accuracy, despite using the “most cost-effective method” for initial survey.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s the rancher who pays, with bills due and owing up front, despite laughable inaccuracies. Rather than fall back and regroup, the county commissioners fully intend to push forward with their flawed vision, on the backs of their constituents.
Despite platforms of openness and reform, the Adam’s Family is alive and well, huddled in their secluded mansion south of Brighton. We may have traded Uncle Fester and Mama for Wednesday and Pugsley, but the modus operandi is the same old, same old: bait and switch, ethics be damned.
District 1 Commissioner Eva Henry ran on a platform of reforming county ethics, but she did so largely with financial help from the same old unions that bankrolled her predecessors. So did ex-labor union boss Chaz Tedesco, who nailed down a fourth of his campaign contributions from unions alone. The same unions that will likely benefit from any large stormwater construction projects throughout the county.
If it walks like a duck...