When it rains too hard it floods. That is a basic fact of life. Can towns like Grand Rapids, Ohio tax Hancock County to fix their flooding issues? Can New Orleans tax the whole Mississippi and Ohio River watershed to pay for its flooding issues? There is a limit to how much upstream land owners can be held accountable for naturally occurring flooding downstream.
Findlay and Hancock County has, over the years, pressed on with development in the flood plain. Even after the 2007 flood, the City of Findlay, led by then Mayor Tony Iriti, was in favor of developing a large tract of land in the flood plain. The flood issues in Findlay have long been a matter of record. Findlay, Hancock County and owners of property in the flood plain, need to take ownership of that fact.
In The Courier editorial “In it Together” the editors make the basic claim that we all have an economic interest in seeing the flood issues in Findlay brought under control. This is true. Then it follows that assessments on land owners need to reflect the economic impact of the flood controls. It is hard to imagine that a farmer in Hardin County would have anything near the same economic benefit from flood controls in Findlay or Ottawa than the owner of developed property in the flood plain in Findlay or Ottawa. How will the assessments take into account these widely differing economic benefits? We have no way of knowing.
The Courier suggests that the Conservancy District hearing was a “text book demonstration of democracy in action.” The Courier seems to have overlooked the key component to the democratic process whereby the people get to vote. As I understand the working of the Conservancy District, one can only conclude that the law was designed to shield the Conservancy Count from the democratic process.
My observation of this process is far different than The Courier. What I see is a text book example of how a well funded lobbying group can co-opt the public process and the willingness of our elected officials to shirk their duties in a self-interested attempt to avoid controversy.
While I am glad to see that The Courier supports the concept of public funding of public projects for the greater good, I just wish that the proponents of the Conservancy District would afford us the same level of financial transparency and accountability that we would rightfully expect from the public funded examples that The Courier enumerated. I find it hard to believe that everyone would support a school levy when the amount of the tax would only be provided after the tax is passed.
The Courier is right, fixing the flooding issues in Findlay is key to our economic future. What the The Courier fails to understand is that if the economic benefit to property owners of flood controls is not in alignment with the cost of assessments of financing the flood controls, the flood controls could well become a long term financial drag on our region.
Different Conservancy Districts deal with different realities, but the fact in this case, is that there is no reason to form this Conservancy District until the Army Corp of Engineers provides us with the flood control plan and formula for the assessments for public review.
To say otherwise is disingenuous.