Opinion

PSRC’s influence should concern all Kitsap voters

We share the concerns of Kitsap residents who showed up Tuesday night for a public meeting in Port Orchard between county officials and leaders of the Puget Sound Regional Council. And while we’re not generally given to conspiracy theories, we can’t help be a little uneasy about the deference shown by both the city and the county to what seems like, in essence, an unelected government.

The PSRC, for the uninitiated, is an ad hoc organization consisting of members representing local county and municipal governments from the Puget Sound region. Its stated raison d’etre is to offer a forum in which lawmakers can share concerns and devise solutions to common problems.

We’re all for inter-governmental communication and cooperation. But what troubles us — and should trouble every taxpayer — is that the PSRC also seems to have an agenda.

Officially, this week’s meeting in Port Orchard was to solicit input on the organization’s VISION 2040 plan — a roadmap for how PSRC believes the region’s development should proceed over the next three decades.

According to the Kitsap County commissioners, the plan will encompass land-use policies, transportation systems, economic development and environmental planning. And while PSRC officially has no authority to enforce its vision, the organization does have say-so over millions of dollars in public grant money that could be either doled out or withheld from local governments based on how closely they parroted PSRC’s mantra.

Paying a call on Kitsap County this week ostensibly to solicit input on its plans for the future may make for smart public relations, but at the end of the day the staffers of PSRC who will draw up the plan are not elected by the voters and have no responsibility to anyone but themselves.

Even worse, Kitsap County members only account for 3 percent of the PSRC votes, while King County alone accounts for 52 percent.

It seems to us very little good can come from our participation in an organization in which Kitsap County has next to no voice at all and whose principal benefit seems to be its capacity to bribe us with grant money in return for doing what’s best for Seattle rather than the folks her at home.

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