Sumner was my first experience
in dealing with a petty dictatorship
and is most worthy of a
Dog Crap in a Flaming Paper Bag Award
You can see my journal to help understand this mess.
- Sumner has a chronic flooding problem.
- Sumner's $80,000 plus stormwater comprehensive plan states that an antiquated
system and undersize pipes are one of the reasons for flooding.
- Sumner's stormwater plan states another reason for flooding is that current
residents and businesses don't have stormwater controls.
- All new construction is required to control stormwater, retaining
it onsite and releasing it slowly into the ditch system. This is a good thing,
most municipalities require it. They don't have to build big ditches.
A good demonstration of this would be if you had (2) 5 gallon buckets,
one with a small hole in the bottom and one with a very large hole in the
bottom. If you then poured water in the buckets you would see that the bucket
with the small hole would "retain" the water and slowly release it while the
bucket with the large hole would "release" its water very quickly onto whatever
it is standing on.
- The city has a problem deciding who should pay.
- The city engineer and city manager decide that even though the older
businesses and residents don't have stormwater controls and are big
contributers to flooding and even though the system is going to have
to be replaced, new development should pay more.
- Unfortunately, there are some large developers who are friends and will have to
pay some really huge fees.
- The council decides that big developers should only have to pay a maximum
amount which results in savings to the developers of $200,000 or more for a
- I was told that if big business paid the same rates as small business they just
wouldn't come to town.
- The council decides that local residents shouldn't have to pay either.
- Some residents had to abandon their homes because of flooding.
- When flooding occurs the sanitary sewers become surcharged and then
residents can't flush.
- Small businesses and churches are the only ones left to pay. The Calvary
Church paid $50,000 for an addition and a parking lot extension. Our mini-golf
paid $4,000 for the equivalent area of 13 parking spaces.
- The city "waives" the fees for other small downtown businesses owned by
- The city doesn't keep any records demonstrating the cost structure of it's ordinance.
- I requested that the city produce the documentation that proved it's fee structure
was "fair and proportionate" as required by State law.
- Alan Nygaard, the city administrator sent me a letter stating that the city hadn't
retained the records and that I would have to pay $600 in order to have them reconstructed.
- August 8, 1997 the Washington State Auditor's Office issued it's audit report. The report
was well over 6 months late because the city could not provide the auditor with it's year end
balance sheets and other documentation required. The report stated the information requested by
me should have been maintained by the city, and that:
- "it was not reasonable to request payment for reconstructing records which the city
should have kept."
- "The loss of records was due to lack of understanding of internal control over public records
on the part of former city management."
- "Because these records were not maintained, we were not able to determine the basis for
the $1,000 storm water fee established in Ordinance 1603."
- The auditor recommended that the city, among other things, Recreate the missing records to
support the charges listed in Ordinance 1603. The city's response was that the auditor's findings
related to incidents which occurred before 1995 and have since been corrected.
- Different auditors in the following years really never seemed to understand
the issue and were happy to accept the city's answer.
- The city administrator decided that our mini-golf should be paying an "admissions tax".
- The city administrator, Alan Nygaard, wanted me to pay 5% of my gross to the city.
- When I sent him a letter requesting a list of other businesses who were required
to pay this tax his response was that only my business
was being required to pay
the tax, however, he would be looking into others that would be required too.
- It turns out the City hadn't collected this tax for over 30 years.
- There were several bars and taverns charging a cover charge and a health club
and the Sumner Performing Arts that should have been clearly paying the tax.
- We informed the City we wouldn't be paying the tax until they started collecting it
from all who should be paying it.
- The City council repealed the admissions tax ordinance (I think because they were going to have
to charge their buddies).
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