November 2020 UPDATE: The Jefferson County, WA page has now been marked as a 'fan page' by Facebook, indicating it is NOT an official county page.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, WA - There seems to be growing controversy over the unofficial Jefferson County, WA Facebook page which appears to be run by Clallam County resident Joe D'Amico and former PT Leader contributor Patrick Sullivan.
With a plethora of low 1-star reviews, the Jefferson County, WA Facebook page appears to be more about promoting the agenda of Mr. D'Amico (his proposed gun range in Quilcene, his discontent for County Sheriff Dave Stanko, etc.) and less about promoting that of Jefferson County or its citizens.
Recent and previous reviews on the page highlight just what the community thinks...
This page is NOT an official page for Jefferson County, Washington. It was created by a man who is a disgrace to our county, Joe D'Amico. Joe doesn't even live in Jeffrson County. He and his friend Patrick Sullivan administer this page. Don't be fooled into thinking this page has anything to do with the county administration.
“This page's byline is "Jefferson County Washington is manage [sic] by the citizens of Jefferson County Washington" but it is, in fact, managed by one particular resident and his business interests. This page is fraudulent, has no relationship to the government of Jefferson County, is not reflective of the views of the other residents of Jefferson County, and is a giant conflict of interest for Joe D'Amico and his private security company. He should turn the page over to Jefferson County.”
“Don't spread slanted news & views. Don't claim to be an official mouthpiece for the county.”
Not an official page. Whoever is running this should turn it over to the county officials
Want Affordable Housing? Say No to Prop 1 and Yes to City Unplanning
By Jessica Hogenson
PORT LUDLOW - Proposition 1 would impose a county-wide property tax to create a $13 million fund for groups promising to build affordable housing in Port Townsend. The seven-year tax levy would regressively tax low-income homeowners at the same rate as people with million dollar houses.
What projects are proposed by Prop 1? None, apparently. “Prop 1 is nothing other than a levy to create a dedicated fund," writes City Councilmember David J. Faber in a Facebook group about affordable housing. "No project has applied for funds because they cannot because the fund does not yet exist.”
Homes Now, the organizer behind Prop 1, references on its website a handful of local nonprofits that may or may not apply for grants which may or may not be awarded at the discretion of a “Fund Board” comprising yet-to-be-appointed persons. (But only after we vote for the funding!)
Olycap is one such nonprofit—a beloved local organization which, by all accounts, does good work. One would hope. According to its 2015 IRS 990 tax return, it spent more than twice as much in salaries and compensation ($4.11 million) as it spent on grants ($1.83 million).
To Our Elected Commissioners:
It is time for our elected BOCC to consider the needs not only of the low income population of Jefferson County but of the approximately 25,000 parcel owners who elected them.
Foremost: calling the low income housing shortage in our county an “emergency” is an inappropriate exercise of the BoCC’s discretionary authority. I am appalled that the Commissioners would even consider putting the measure to a vote. A problem that has been years in the making due to economic and demographic circumstances, that has not been otherwise addressed by the Board and County action and, by the very proposal, that would take 7 years to even attempt to correct cannot be called an emergency. Also consider this: to label it as an emergency subjects the County, and therefore, the taxpaying citizens to legal challenges for which we will all pay.
Beyond that fundamental problem with the proposal, my purpose is not to dispute the rationale for needing more affordable housing in our county, but to urge the Commissioners to recognize that: 1) the County government has not taken the first steps to alleviate policies, zoning and high development fees that may stand in the way of developing more affordable housing units; 2) the tax paying property owners of Jefferson County are under attack by all government sectors in Washington; 3) instituting another property tax increase only serves to undermine affordable housing, because owners of rental properties will have to pass the additional cost onto renters; 4) by increasing property taxes you are making it harder for the residential property owners of our county, especially those on fixed incomes, to remain in our homes. The Home Opportunity Fund is not the solution.
According to tax-rates.org, Jefferson County, WA already has one of the highest tax rates in the United States. They ranked our county 270th of the 3,143 counties as a percentage of the median income. We already pay almost 4% of our income on property taxes.
Still, our county commissioners are proposing a $0.36/per thousand increase, but what is more disturbing to me is the proposal has no plan to define what benefits the tax-payers will see. I find this an insult to the tax-payers. They appear to think we would allow someone to spend our money without a plan, that is, to write a blank check.
If one of my engineers or program managers had ever come to me and asked me to approach such an expenditure I would have laughed them out of my office.
The proposal is to provide low-income housing. Port Townsend and Jefferson County is supposedly the city and county with the second highest median age in the entire state. So, is the housing for seniors or for our youth? If for seniors: are they proposing more assisted living facilities managed by a business which will want to make a profit? So the seniors are paying for the facility? With what income? Government taxes? If for young people: they need an income. Or are they expecting us the tax-payers to pay their rent as well?
However, the real issue from my limited perspective is you are addressing a symptom, the the real issues. We don't as a county or state provide adequate training to our younger generations to enable them to earn a livable income. Where are the technical training programs? By that, I mean the training for plumbers, mechanical drafts people, machinists, welders, electricians or electronic technicians. We as a county don't appear to want to create an attractive environment for businesses.
When a company begins looking for a place establish a new location to produce a product it looks for infrastructure. That includes adequate roads, local securities, utilities and training programs. It also looks for an encouraging local culture and economic climate. That is what the Chinese have been doing for the past 35 years. In the 1980's, those who were in production operations could easily see the writing on the wall. The Chinese told us their future goal was to have 80% of global production done in their country.
The Chinese have built roads, dams for electricity and buildings as well as starting new training programs to provide a trained work force for future businesses. They knew if they didn't produce products that could be sold on the world market they could never have an economically viable nation. We in the USA have forgotten that lesson. Producing real tangible products is the fundamental basis of any real economy. Services are necessary, but if we can't sell a tangible product we don't really have an economy.
If we want to have a livable wage environment for our youth we have to make that same type of decision. We need to attract businesses that provide viable incomes for our future generations. I am not attempting to define what that looks like, but there are businesses that have viable products that could be attracted to our community given an attractive culture and economic climate.
Providing low-income housing may be at best a 'band-aid' fix, but it doesn't in my opinion address the real issues. Not everyone can be a computer programmer or engineer. We need to empower our youth to be more productive members of society. They need help in finding a way to earn a livable income. That is our job as elders of the community.
The state legislature has just approved a $0.81 increase to pay for schools in our state. As much as I don't want to pay more taxes, that makes sense to me. We need our children to have a good education to have a viable country. We need to pay our teachers a livable income so they will provide a good education to the students. We need to provide proper facilities for education programs.
If they want to increase my property taxes, then they need to show me a plan that is something more than providing low-income housing. The only ones who really benefit from that are the property owners - they get an income stream that provides them a future capital gains at my expense.
If they increase taxes, I guarantee you that rental property owners will increase the rents to compensate. Is that what you really want? How do I know? I know because we used to be landlords and have seen the process up close. What is proposed is not, in my opinion, a good long-term solution for the community.
Port Townsend, WA
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