Councilmember Plunkett commented at the Jan. 23rd council meeting that he wants to do away with the volunteer Economic Development Commission. Councilmember Buckshnis hasn’t stated that she wants to abolish the ECD, but she has joined Mr. Plunkett in disparaging that valuable group.
The root cause for Plunkett’s and Buckshnis’ ECD concerns is their dislike for a proposal from that citizens’ group to invoice citizens a non-transport charge when they call 911 for EMS, and after an onsite examination EMS personnel conclude that no transport to a hospital is required. The charge will obviously be a lesser amount than for transport. There are other communities that have implemented this charge that is generally paid for by insurance companies. Charges for citizens who do not have insurance will be written off.
This non-transport charge has been deemed by the two council members to not be economic development. What is economic development? My view is that economic development is any action/activity, other than increasing taxes, that grows the city’s revenue. To suit their purposes, Mr. Plunkett and Ms. Buckshnis have defined the non-transport charge to be a tax. How ridiculous; they haven’t defined the transport fee to be a tax! I think that they should let us all know the names of their health insurance companies. Wouldn’t we all like to have health insurance companies who would pay taxes for us.
Mr. Plunkett has stated that he feels that the ECD has diluted their mission of economic development by spending their time to develop this non-transport proposal. Since the formation of the ECD in 2009, I have attended, as an observer, all but two or three of the commission’s monthly meetings. Regrettably, most council members, including Mr. Plunkett, have not attended a single meeting. Had he done so he would have known that the proposal took only a miniscule amount of the commission’s time. Virtually all of the work was done at home by commission member Darrol Haug.
So rather than criticizing the group, Mr. Plunkett and Ms. Buckshnis should be commending them for coming up with a viable source of revenue, at no cost to citizens, that no one else had conceived. I hope that at the council retreat this week city council will extend the ECD’s duration indefinitely, as is the case for other volunteer groups like the Hwy 99 Task Force and the Citizens Technical Advisory Committee. It’s reasonable to assume that there will always be a need for a focus on economic development.
P.S. The following is another paper’s published response from Councilmember Plunkett: “I’ll leave it to Ron Wambolt to explain to the people of Edmonds as to why he wants to tax their 911 emergency phone calls. And I’ll focus on stopping Ron Wambolt or any one else from taxing 911 emergency phone calls.”
The EDC’s proposed charge is clearly only defined as a tax in Mr. Plunkett’s exclusive dictionary. His response immediately above is no more than a filibuster tactic.