By Sam Bergeron
January 15, 2013
I think the Ketchikan council members and the city management, that to want to “go forward” with this, have decidedly different perspective on the ability of the tax payers as a whole to pay for this project and the vastly overblown (cost- wise) new library and fire station we just built. The fire station is the same size as the main fire station in Fairbanks, Alaska and the new library has slate siding from central India!! Boy I know we needed that!
Both of these projects were studies in excesses and the end result is that you all get the pleasure of paying for these boondoggles. Yes we needed a new fire station but we did not need a 24,000 square foot one that you might build if you were in the biggest economic boom in history instead of the greatest recession since the great depression. Libraries are experiencing hard times due to this thing called the internet; some of you may have heard of it and may have even changed your library usage due to the instant availability of most books, movies, TV shows and the like. I know I have, but that’s just me.
I can tell you with no amount of uncertainty that the management of the city want to raise your taxes, electrical rates, water rates, sewer rates, harbor rates, parking fees and virtual every fee and service we provide. We need more of your money! Oh, we don’t want to raise our Warfage and dockage fees we charge the cruise lines even though we have the lowest such fees in the Western hemisphere. They wouldn’t stand for that!
Just to set the record straight: I’m adamantly opposed to the renovation of the Centennial Building; we just can’t afford it. We need to maintain the building, not completely renovate it. We need to live within our means; by that I mean YOUR means. We need to look at all the facilities we own and see if we need to combine some of our operations and economize where we can; not spend more and more on things we want but can’t afford. It’s time to make some hard choices on spending, not continue to build over-sized, over-priced public buildings.
It’s amazing we spent $50 thousand on a condition study on the centennial building that was by my intention, to be used to tell us what, you guessed it, the condition of the building is and what the remedies would be to keep the doors open. What we got on the most part was a proposal to go forward with another phase the design contract to either completely tear down the building or completely renovate. What a waste of your money. Presumably all this was done in preparation for the next fat design contract to build another over-priced and over-sized public project that yes, all of you get the bill for. Their argument is we need a shovel ready design for the legislature. Sound familiar? We would still be on the hook for about 4-5 million dollars to pay for beyond what the State of Alaska may pick up. I say no to this. We all know that our infrastructure is old and has many multiple millions of dollars of unmet needs. Needed projects like water, sewer, streets, bridges and trestles come before “wanted” projects, plain and simple. These unmet needs already put a lot of pressure on the budget to increase revenues to cover their future costs.
Rodney Dial is right when he says our taxes and fees are too high. So it’s time for the grown-ups to say no to new, unwarranted spending. We at the City have a spending problem; not a revenue problem as Mr. Dial alludes to. The time is here to make some hard choices going forward on keeping the costs of government within reason. That, my friends, is easier said than done.
About: Sam Bergeron is a member of the Ketchikan City Council.
Received January 14, 2013 - Published January 15, 2013
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