The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., August 12, 1932, page 7


     "Among certain thinking citizens of Wasco, Sherman and Hood River counties," states The Dalles Chronicle editorially, "the idea of consolidating into one county is rapidly gaining favor as the various arguments against such a move are, one by one, proved to be groundless.
     "Why have three sets of county officers and the overhead expense of operating three counties when the same effective county government can be accomplished by one set of officers? Such is the argument of the taxpayer who gives this matter serious thought. Thousands of dollars in tax money can be saved in administration expense alone, and in these times of high taxes every dollar that can be saved it is vital and necessary.
     Time was when the tedious effort of driving to the county seat to pay taxes or transact other official business was a matter of several days away from home for some of the residents of the distant corners of Wasco county. That was in the days before the automobile and fine highways. Sherman county was whittled out of the old mother county of Wasco because of the residents of the Sherman county district felt that they were big enough to have a county of their own. Nor did the residents of Wasco county object. They also felt that our good neighbors to the east should have a county of their own if they so desired, and approval was given.
     "Again later, not so many years ago, the residents of the fine, fertile valley of Hood River and the citizens of the city of Hood River felt the same urge to create Hood River county. Again the Wasco county residents gave their approval and wishes by voting in favor of the creation of Hood River county.
     "In each case three young counties were obliged to elect officers for the conduct of county business. A court house was maintained and many other expenses were added to the tax dollar the citizens were already paying. But that was as they wanted it and the mother county of Wasco was happy to see its offspring thrive.
     "In the passing years conditions have changed materially. At no time since Sherman and Hood River counties were born has there been a lack of interchange of thought, business and social activities between them and Wasco county. The residents of all three counties are still interested in each other and the knowledge that once we were all one county is still a tie of friendship. Connecting and through highways have been built. The automobile gradually made the residents of the three counties better acquainted than they were in the old days when a 30- or 80-mile trip was a matter of days.
     "Naturally the demand for roads was an extensive drain on the taxpayer. In the case of Wasco county as it is today the burden has not been as great on the individual taxpayer because we have a preponderance of population -- more people to pay the bill. And a fine system of county and state highways has been completed.
     "With such roads it is an easy matter for the residents of the Shaniko and Antelope regions to reach the county seat, transact their business, and return home the same day. These two towns are mentioned because they are still the most distant from the county seat. No resident of Hood River county and no resident of Sherman county has as far to go to reach his present county seat. When Hood River county was still a part of Wasco county the town of Cascade locks was so isolated that a train or boat trip was required for its citizens to reach The Dalles. Now a little more than an hour and most any kind of car will suffice to make the trip.
     "And the same condition prevails in Sherman county. Today it is possible and, in fact, a reality, for residents of the Kent district to drive to The Dalles in the evening, attend a show and go back home the same night.
     "So much for the picture of distances and inter-relations which have been materially changed in the last 20 years.
     "Now, what are the objections to consolidating the three counties? We shall try to be bring out a few of them, and show how they can be handled.
     "First, it must be remembered that each county has its set of county books and records. These could be maintained in their present setup under one set of officers.
     "The board of county commissioners is composed of three members. One from each of the present three counties to look after his respective districts will solve that problem.
     "Taxes paid by each other districts could be controlled by one board of county commissioners and correct percentage of road funds and other funds allotted to the district from whence the tax money came.
     "Without consulting records to ascertaining the financial condition of each of the counties, we see no reason for objection from anyone on the matter of county debts. For an example, let us say that Wasco county at present is carrying the least in outstanding bonds. It might be the thought of some that we would be obliged to take on more debts for the acquisition of Hood River and Sherman county. In a sense, yes, but nothing would prevent district budgeting in a manner that would care for the retirement of all outstanding debts in proportion to the taxes emanating from each district. There may be some legal matter to consider in this connection, but it is certain that some adequate handling of the outstanding bonds could be worked out without the taxpayers of one county being forced to take on an additional load to pay out the deaths of the annexed county. At least there must be a plan that would be satisfactory to all.
     "Additional revenue through the saving of county operating expense would aid in more rapidly retirement of outstanding debts of the counties in question.
     "We could go on ad infinitum, setting forth item after item in the consideration of the problem, and in each case there is a solution -- a solution that can have but one end -- the ultimate saving of thousands of dollars in taxes.
     "While neither Wasco, Hood River nor Sherman county will ever fail as an individual county, yet we like that phrase denoting strength -- "United we stand."

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer