SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



The Consolidation Myth
By Rodney Dial


January 27, 2006

Consider this: You have a car you love, its dependable, has always taken care of your needs and has a reasonable lease ¡Vyou¡re happy-. One day you receive a call from the Lessor who tells you they have a deal you can't refuse. You are told that If you allow them to revise your lease, and turn in your old car you will get a new one that is more efficient, with lower payments. Although you love your old car, you excitedly respond to the dealer.

When you arrive you learn that the deal has changed. First, they can no longer promise that the payments will be lower, actually they will increase. They attempt to reassure you by saying that your payments can only be raised again if a majority of the management agree to do so - "Trust us they say".

You are told that you can't see or test drive the new vehicle, and that once the lease is changed, you can never go back. As you ponder your options you learn that those who have accepted this offer in other communities have discovered that the promise of increased efficiency, only resulted in increased costs and complexity. What do you do?

The facts of the current consolidation attempt are this: That shortly after voters overwhelmingly rejected the last attempt at consolidation (2001), supporters tried again, this time with promises of more efficiency. Voters were swayed and approved the latest consolidation attempt on October 7, 2003. The current Consolidation Commission was formed and submitted a petition to the State with the following key points: 10 mil property tax cap, and proposal to require at least two-thirds of the assembly or a majority of the voters to authorize any fee increase.

Last November, the Commission filed the following modifications to the original petition: The tax cap has been removed, areawide taxes are expected to increase by 2 mils under consolidation (yes this includes the city), and the original proposal to require at least two-thirds of the assembly or a majority of the voters to authorize any fee increase was eliminated. Don¡t believe me? check out the AMENDED petition for yourself at

If you love this community, ask yourself the following, concerning consolidation:

(Q) If consolidation is about saving money, and less government, (as supporter's claim) then why was the tax cap proposal removed from the petition? (A) 1. Because consolidation has NEVER in Alaskan history, resulted in lower LOCAL government spending (see, Eagle River, Anchorage Hillside, Juneau, etc.) 2. Because the proposed tax cap was only used to garner public support for the consolidation attempt. 3. Because increased public spending is the ultimate goal of many consolidation supporters. 4. Because consolidation will ultimately allow the State to transfer program costs to the newly formed government (research Juneau¡s / Anchorage Hillside¡s past, regarding public safety funding).

Q) What prevents Ketchikan's two government system from consolidating services, without consolidating governments. (A) Nothing. Many Cities, Villages, and even State and local governments across the State share expenses / employees every day. An example of this can be seen in the many communities where the State contracts with local governments to provide Jail, and emergency dispatch services. Many communities have MOA¡s with each other and share service costs. The cry that consolidation of the City and Borough will result in more efficient government is simply a play on words, and is in fact nothing more than a Red-Herring.

I encourage all Ketchikan Island residents to do the research for themselves concerning consolidation. Statewide City tax information is available on the State Website. You will see in black and white, that the largest communities also have the highest taxes. If you think about it, the reason becomes clear, more services government rules/regulations, employees, etc. An example can be seen in the amount of money Anchorage spends each year just to pick up drunks off the sidewalk (community service patrol). Have you ever hear of a small city that required its residents to obtain a permit for replacing a home hot water heater? Larger city¡s do, and the taxpayers in those communities pay higher taxes as a result.

My challenge to the Consolidation Commission / supporters is this: Prove your detractors wrong, and amend the petition to guarantee the public the following: 1. No tax increases without a vote of the people (if this is really about saving money then you have nothing to worry about). 2. A guarantee that no land will be annexed into the city without majority support of the people affected. 3. Clear identification of where money will be saved because of consolidation. 4. Give the public the ability / right to vote after one year, to reinstate the two government system, should consolidation not live up to the promises made.

If you can provide the aforementioned guarantees, then you will probably have public support, if not, then only a fool would vote for consolidation. Finally, don¡t even think about crying about how poor our local governments are when we have a fleet of buses driving around the city with almost no one on them, but that is a topic for another day.

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: Rodney Dial is a lifelong Alaskan. He states he has lived in every geographical region of the State and "I have seen first hand the effects of consolidation in other communities. Consolidation will result in significantly higher taxes for Island residents with no increase in services."


Related Information:

Ketchikan Consolidation Commission



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