NorthCounty a big focus of candidate’s debate
Perhaps the ears of North County residents should be burningafter a recent candidates’ debate held in Okanogan. This part of the valleyseemed to be the focus of some tough questions by those asking the questions ofthe would-be commissioner and treasurer.
One issue which came up in both the questioning of thecandidates for Okanogan County Commissioner, Position 3 and for countytreasurer had to do with the payback schedule for the Eastlake Sewer System.The county borrowed low-interest money from the state Public Works Trust Fundand the current commissioners based the county’s ability to pay it back on feesrelated to future connections to the system. At the debate both commissionercandidates, Becki Andrist and Jim Detro, said there needed to be a plan to payit back as the current number of connections being made were no where near whatwas needed to service the debt. Detro even said that the county should not havepaid for a foreign developer’s development costs, referring to the VerandaBeach Resort on the end of the new sewer system. Treasurer candidate LeahMcCormack said the county was obligated to service the debt and would need tocome up with a ‘Plan B’ to meet its obligation.
Whoever is elected commissioner will have to work with thesitting commissioners and the treasurer’s office to come up with this Plan B.Perhaps it will entail an increase in the cost to connect to the system whichhas not only benefited Veranda Beach, but anyone that wants to develop propertyin the unincorporated areas outside of on the east side of the lake.
The commissioners were foresighted in applying for the PWTFloan to pay for a project that brought development along the lake while helpingto keep the lake clean by connecting to Oroville’s wastewater treatment plant.That development has brought jobs and once the economy recovers from therecession those jobs should come back.&#160;
Warrants at North Valley Hospital were also a topic ofdiscussion at the debate. Right now the warrants are slowly being repaid andthe hospital seems to have a plan to continue to do so. However, there was someconcern about how far the hospital had been allowed to get into debt to thecounty. Whoever is treasurer will need to work with the hospital to make surethat the hospital sticks with the plan and works its way out of the hole.
Commissioner candidate Detro was critical of the countypurchasing land for a trailhead for the Whistler Canyon Trail. He seemed toimply that the county has spent money it couldn’t afford with the idea that theproperty would be sold to the Forest Service. He said the agency had backed outof the deal and the county was now stuck with the land. This sounds a lot worsethan it is considering the county used Title III grant funds that it would havelost if they didn’t spend it and didn’t have to reach into the county coffers.
Anyway, it was just surprising how much the north end of thecounty came up in the debate. The Position 3 Commissioner candidate does comefrom our end of the Okanogan, but we seemed to be cast in a somewhat harshlight – in most cases by the questions that were asked and in some cases by thecandidates themselves.