At Washington County's "State of the County" forum in February, Commissioner Jim Wade said general fund help for the county's sewer and water systems was essential, because rate-payers couldn't absorb the $2.5 million general-fund subsidy without being driven out of their homes. On Tuesday, the commissioners voted, on Wade's motion, to cut the subsidy by $700,000.
It may not seem consistent, but it's tough to criticize Wade and the majority's decision to spread the county's available revenue around.
To begin with, the subsidy is of questionable legality. If it's challenged successfully in court, the full weight will have to fall on the rate-payers sooner rather than later. Second, the city and the county recently agreed to work on increasing flow to the county's underutilized Conococheague plant, which should trim the amount of subsidy needed. And finally, improving the school system - Wade's stated reason for cutting the subsidy - should eventually improve the economic climate enough to attract more businesses that will use the plant.