Water District Coalition petitions County Legal Department, “Stop the spending and follow the law!”

Uphold the LawAs many of our readers are aware water is a big issue for Whatcom County. A lot of money continues to be spent, as the County works towards final resolution of this issue. County residents have expressed concern about the process, because it directly affects their private and business property rights.

In a nutshell our County derives it powers from the County Charter. The County Council is the legal authority that levies property taxes, such as the Flood Control Zone levy. The County Council has the legal authority to decide how the money levied for the Flood Control Zone District Fund (FCZDF) is spent. The County Council passed a resolution in 1999 and funded it in the year 2000. Their resolution placed 50% of the revenues received from the flood control fund in the Water Resource Program (WRP).  The Joint Administrative Board (JAB), which is made up of local government agencies spent the money. The Whatcom County Council approval of the allocation of  Flood Control funds for water resource planning was for the years 2000 through 2003.

How much money are we talking about here? $5.7M tax payer dollars. In the year 2003 the left over balance in this fund was $1.6M. What is the problem here? The Joint Advisory Board has continued to spend the money under the assumption the left over money belongs to them. The Water District Coalition states that Washington State law and the County Charter says otherwise.


The following documents recap the Whatcom County Council’s original intent, and why the Water District Coalition claims that the County Executive and the JAB do not have the legal authority to direct appropriation of the leftover monies received from the County’s flood funds. The Water District Coalition states that the funds were alienated, and thus these funds should go back to the flood fund, and Whatcom County Council as the legal authority should determine any future expenditure(s).

It’s techy stuff but it’s worth reading through it to understand that; what was approved from 1999 through 2003 has come and gone, the money belongs to the people and in alienation of those funds they must come back to the County flood control fund.

~ Kris Halterman

Eshibit 11 - WCC Spec Wtr Resources Work Session
Exhibit 10 - WC Pub Works FCZDF Cash Flow Projections -Jt_Brd_Fund_June_2003
Gibson Letter Water Dist Coalition - JAB_Fund_through_Apr_2014_pg.5
  Water Dist Coalition Ltr to Gibson Supporting Documentation to Gibson Ltr (All)

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  1. Good for them for attempting to make the local government follow the law. However, I’m not sure it will do any good. Remember last year when Kremin explained to the County Council that the Flood Control money has always been used for pet projects for the COB because “people in the COB pay into the fund and don’t flood so it’s only fair that we spend that money on other projects in the COB”. Also remember that the County Council just voted to transfer 1.5 million from Conservation Futures to the Parks Maintenance fund thereby thumbing their noses at the voters who voted that money be used on Conservation. It’s always so easy to spend someone else’s money!

  2. The best people can do is to ask questions, have open access to government activities (especially spending) and to petition them to abide by the law. That is how trust between the people and their government is built. The fact that people no longer believe in or trust in their government rest directly at their own feet because of their own actions. It is up to the people to speak out and trust that the voters will elect good leaders. In today’s “noisy” world it is not easy to accomplish, but we must always strive for that outcome.

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