NEWCASTLE, Wash. -- Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo admits he "wasn't real happy" when he penned an opinion piece for the most recent edition of the Newcastle News.
"I was just tired of it," said Crispo, "I just didn't want to hear anymore of it."
"It" refers to the contentious debate surrounding budget negotiations at the end of 2016. Specifically, discussion around a proposed utility tax.
"And I was threatened in emails I have gotten," explained Crispo, "Where if you vote for the tax, we're going to do this or that to you."
The tax was rejected by the council, and the budget was balanced without the additional revenue. Crispo was unable to attend the vote because of a family emergency, but said he would have voted against it as well because of a lack of public involvement.
Nonetheless, in the new year Crispo decided to put his frustration into print with the headline, "Should we remain a city?"
"It was rhetorical from a sense of, I wanted people to read," he explained, "I thought I needed to set the stage and be honest and upfront about what's really going on."
Mayor Crispo in no way wants the city to dissolve. But his letter earned a swift response.
"I was a little frustrated," said council member John Dulcich of the article. "Of course it's dangerous to do that. I would've liked another paragraph about how great we are."
The utility tax was put forward by city staff to make up for a half-a-million dollar budget shortfall. Dulcich helped rework the budget to make it balanced without the additional revenue.
"One narrative I didn't agree with is over questioning being a city," said Dulcich of some community reaction. "We're a solid city. We can be a city as long as we want to."