SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Property value increases excessive
By Tyrell Rettke


January 23, 2007

I just want to start out by saying, I agree with the majority of people that I've heard from that these new Ketchikan property value increases are quite excessive. I am posting this letter only to put a bit of correction and perspective into your letter Dan McQueen.

" With all the money coming in from the New Cruise Ship Tax - which we passed - and the yearly sales tax generated by locals and hoards of tourists spending all the money they do in this town generating bags & bags of tax money, why do our government officials think that WE, the tax-paying year-round residents can afford another TAX INCREASE?

Wasn't the cruise-tax suppose to offset the need to OVER-TAX the LOCALS?

Someone mentioned a Property Tax-Cap. I second that idea!"

For starters, "We", being Alaska, did pass this bill. However, "we" being South East Alaska, did not. It failed horribly here, because we are the only area that can harbor cruise ships. The bulk of the population, unfortunately, lives up north in Anchorage and surrounding areas, where it was able to accumulate enough votes to pass.

Now the underlying problem with that tax: The cities do not get it, as we used to with our own taxes we had (head taxes and the like). It all goes to the state, where each city (including those who don't have multi million dollar docks and cruise ship infrastructures to support), has to lobby for money. So, I will be guessing that it will be a net loss for Ketchikan, and probably all of southeast.

Secondly, sales tax. It is true that we have more people coming to Ketchikan than, say, 20 years ago. The over all dollar amount spent is up, but not proportionately to the number of people that are now coming. Long story short? Each person is spending less money. These new cruises are cheaper, and are occupied not by the affluent and well to do people like the hay days of tourism, but by newly weds, single people, and retired people who have scrimped and saved for this trip for years, and aren't willing to spend much more than a few bucks here and there.

The other problem is that the figures we get from the market research firms are totals. Meaning if I come through Ketchikan on a cruise ship and spend 25 dollars on food for the day, and 150 dollars at the cruise ship owned and operated tour, it says I've spent 175 dollars, when in fact only the 25 dollars is taxed in Ketchikan, because they presell almost all the tours on board the ship before reaching the dock, and avoid the extra 2.5 - 6 %. (On top of taking 40% cuts from local tours). So, you see Tax revenues are down. And this year saw a drop in regular revenue as well because of scheduling issues. The ships come in early, shuffle people onto tours, and get back with little time to shop, so they get on board the ship instead.

Many business owners already have seen this, especially those who are not on Front St. or on the docks. Things down town looked bleak this year folks. Just talking with other business people downtown, 30-40% drops in revenue was a common number. Even if that number is only half true, a 15-20% drop in revenue for a business that can only take a 10% margin and still be competitive is murder on the wallet.

Things are looking bleak folks. I didn't mean to end up at this point with this letter, but oh well, here it goes...

We need a new industry, something that does not require resources, does not create a draw on the community. Not a retail store that employs people, yes, but sends 60% + of it's take to others to buy new products. We need an Information Industry.

If we had a fiber optic link to the world (which for some reason KPU decided we didn't need... thanks guys.) we could invite companies like IBM, Boeing, Microsoft, etc, to have offices here for employees who would rather live in a small town, close to nature, etc. This is a common thing for companies as large as this, as it promotes employee loyalty and ensures longer lasting employees.

We also need to expand the resources we have. We can't touch the forests or turn over a rock, of course (all is well, Al, Bill). But we have vast ocean resources that we can harvest, with out even depleting the naturally occurring stocks. I'm talking about shell fish, crab, and geoducks. The state seems, though, to be fighting those who are trying to responsibly promote and invest in these areas in many ways. I won't get any further into it, as I've already digressed so far. Please contact any geoduck diver for more information on this.

Back to my main point. This town is in for a hard few years I think. This is, of course, my own opinion, based on what I have seen, learned in history, and see first hand. I hope that the people we have elected to power locally will take heart and listen to the small business people in town, as we, like it or not, have a pretty good pulse on what's going on in the city.
Thanks for listening.

Tyrell Rettke
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 23, 2007 - Published January 23, 2007

About: " Ketchikan Resident for 16 years, local business owner, avid ney sayer."


Related Viewpoint:

letter Property Tax Hike & the Cruise Ship Tax By Dan McQueen - Ketchikan, AK



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