Saturday, August 20, 2016
Crazy Idea: City of Thurston
One of the frequent criticisms of the Thurston County Commission is that usually the people who serve on commission come from where most people in the county live, one of the three major cities.
The criticism goes, being city residents, though, they aren't necessarily impacted by the policy decisions they make for residents in unincorporated areas. We'll just ignore the fact that unincorporated rural landowner and incorporated landowners pay the exact same rate to the county in taxes for the the rest of this post.
So, here's a crazy idea: why doesn't the entire unincorporated part of Thurston County become its own city? And, I'm not just talking about the parts of rural Thurston County that really should have their own local government (looking right at you Rochester and Grand Mound), but I mean the entire unincorporated swath of it.
That way, the rural Thurston City government would take over nearly every local government function like planning, policing, and garbage pickup.
Thurston County would still exist, but would be stripped down to the things that really only counties can provide, like courts, elections, that sort of thing.
Their is a history of large rural area of a county declaring themselves free from the tyranny of local county government by becoming a city. In 1990 Bainbridge Island became its own city when the pre-existing city of Winslow swallowed up the rest of the island.
The article I linked to shows some of the issues that the islanders had to face to with being their own bosses (increased population growth, growing pains of ramping up services and just paying for government), but it would be interesting to see rural residents stand on their own.
Because, as you might know, landowners in Olympia pay the same rate to the county as the ones living off Fir Tree Road.