City of Vancouver weighs new "Virtual Horse Manure" fee to offset increased costs incurred by county leadership
Shortly after public trough enthusiast Don Benton announced his intent to commit extortion in the name of a balanced budget, he received a tough dose of his own medicine.
Claiming the need to raise local fees in order to pay off a costly Clean Water Act settlement, Benton targeted the county's only daily newspaper by threatening a specific, targeted, and transparently retributional $150,000 tax.
"If that paper insists on printing things that make me look bad," said Benton, "then I will insist on making it impossible for them to do business."
When it was pointed out to Benton that the county does not have the authority to impose a "litter tax," nor does it have the right to target individual businesses that operate under a different jurisdiction, in this case the City of Vancouver, he snorted. "I don't think you know who you're talking to."
"Oh but we do," said the entire Vancouver City Council in unison. "We hear you loud and clear."
The Vancouver City Council, while split on many issues and still trying to determine its identity in the wake of recent election-year turnover, was unanimous on one point.
"We need to strengthen our noise pollution ordinances around here," said Mayor Tim Leavitt. "Specifically in the area near the courthouse and county building. If it smelled as bad as it sounds over there, no one would be able to even walk down that block without strapping on a pair of hip waders."
The other six members of council agreed and immediately passed a noise ordinance covering the four-block area that encompasses the county's primary operations complex.
"We want to be sure we only go for those polluters who already have tracking systems in place and who contribute a large amount of waste," said Leavitt. "It's pretty well-documented that a major load is dropped every time Don Benton opens his mouth. So that's where we're going to start."