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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Water Project District: Points of Opposition

[Part 3 in a series!]

I gave the proponents of the Interlakes Water Project District a full post listing the main functions and benefits of their plan. Now let's list the points of opposition raised by the more vocal attendees at yesterday's meeting in Chester:
  • The proposed water project district (WPD) includes only Lakes Madison and Brant. To make serious progress on water quality, the district needs to include at least Lake Herman, if not the entire county.
  • We already pay taxes to support the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and numerous other agencies to protect water quality. We should be able to get our money's worth from existing agencies without piling on more taxes for another agency.
  • Lake residents are already seeing higher tax assessments from the county. Yet the lakes continue to have to form additional taxing entities, such as road and sanitary districts, to obtain services that the county doesn't provide. Lake taxation is already unfair; adding another special district only exacerbates the unfairness.
  • WPD proponent Martin Jarrett said that 85% of the water quality problems come from agriculture. 14% come from the city of Madison. Only a tiny fraction results from the actions of lake residents. Therefore, said one attendee, it seems unfair that lake residents should pay higher taxes when Joe Blow who lives two miles outside the district causes the bulk of the pollution.
  • Instead of creating a new district to redistribute tax dollars in leases and incentives, we need to put some teeth in existing laws and enforce fines for pollution.
Now as Rolly Samp said at the meeting, it's always easier to oppose than propose: building a plan requires making every piece fit together, while opposing a plan requires finding just one piece that doesn't work. But, as my classical conservative (and policy debate!) friends will tell you, such are the reasonable rules of the public policy game. If you have the temerity to suggest changing the status quo, the burden falls on you to justify the change and present a solid plan.

So how do these arguments against (and the earlier arguments for) the water project district stack up? Analysis, commentary, and wild speculation coming up!

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