Published October 14, 2012
More reliable study needed
Voters tend to approve school bonds and other ballot measures when it is clear how much they will have to pay and precisely how the money will be spent. Proposition 1 reverses that process. It says, give the PUD the authority to take on debt and spend your money, but we can’t tell you how much more you will have to pay or for how long – “just trust us.” Voters deserve better. Part of the argument for Proposition 1 is that Thurston PUD will do an expensive comprehensive study once it gets voter approval to move forward. If the math doesn’t work, they say, the idea will be shelved. That’s backward. Instead of Proposition 1, the PUD could have run a ballot measure asking voters to approve funding to undertake such a study before seeking irreversible authority. If that study proved favorable, the PUD could have presented voters with a detailed implementation plan that included precise estimates on rate projections, acquisition or construction costs, thorough research and discussion of legal issues, and estimates of start-up costs, among other issues. Instead, the PUD hired a firm – well-known for promoting public power – to do a skin-deep study, which turned out to be eerily similar to its Jefferson County study, which turned out to be completely and wildly inaccurate. The PUD and the public power advocates have put the cart before the horse.