Losses in sales tax could
result in mill rate increase
Chamber hears more about Port
By Marie L. Monyak
March 09, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - Councilman Lew Williams was the invited guest
speaker at the weekly luncheon for the Greater Ketchikan Chamber
of Commerce Wednesday. William's presentation was about the Port
Expansion Project and he provided those in attendance with a
handout containing a great deal of statistical information on
Ketchikan's sales and property tax, the general fund and community
City Councilman Lew
Photograph by Dick Kauffman
The Port Revenue Bond and Berth
III are high interest topics in Ketchikan and as a result the
luncheon came close to standing room only as business owners
took time from their busy schedules to attend.
Williams began, "I want to explain why the City Council
feels the way they do about the port expansion project and talk
about how we can relieve the congestion downtown and make room
for the new panamax ships."
"We will be down 100,000 [cruise ship] passengers this summer
because we just don't have room for the ships," Williams
said. He further explained that the City has been able to keep
the property tax mill rate down in the past due to sales tax
revenues directly related to the tourism industry.
To further understand the direct correlation between tourist
spending and the City mill rate over the last twenty years one
only need look at the statistics provided in William's handouts.
Although the information he provided lists the yearly City mill
rate for the last twenty years, for the sake of brevity the following
information is listed for every five years since 1986.
|| 6.4* estimated
"All we want is to keep what we had," Williams appealed
to the audience. "Anything we lose in sales tax we have
to replace with a mill rate increase." Besides locally owned
businesses that cater to tourists, the influx of stores owned
by non-residents greatly contribute to the sales tax revenue.
In 2005, the estimated sales tax revenue was 9.1 million dollars,
that figure is expected to drop to 8.8 million dollars for 2006
as a direct result of the lower number of ships visiting Ketchikan
in the upcoming season. Once again, referring to the statistics
provided in William's handouts, one can see the steady increase
in sales tax revenue.
SALES TAX REV.
Although the statistics above provide a clear picture of the
city's financial dependency on tourism, there are still more
facts to consider. "One of our main goals is to relieve
congestion downtown, spread out the pedestrian traffic and provide
a place for bus loading," said Williams.
The most important element to consider is the bond itself. Rob
Skinner of Skinner Sales and Service assisted Williams in explaining
the bond in simple lay person terms. "There are Municipal
Bonds that use property tax as collateral," Skinner continued,
"then there are Revenue Bonds."
Greater Ketchikan Chamber
of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
The bond that the residents will be voting on is a Revenue Bond.
Skinner explained, "This one [Revenue Bond] is through the
Alaska Bond Bank, they are liable for it, they sell the bonds,
the city is not liable. The payments do not come from property
taxes but from port passenger fees which were, I believe, $5.1
million last year."
In fact, based on Proposition No.1, Resolution No. 06-2164, the
Port Revenue Bonds of $38.5 million will be paid by revenues
from the Ketchikan Port Fund, including proceeds from passenger
wharfage fees charged to cruise ships arriving in the City.
Efforts are underway by the City to assist in educating the public
on the facts so voters will be able to make a well informed decision
as they go to the polls on Tuesday, April 11th. Last week the
Ketchikan City Council approved $10,000 in funds to provide information
to the public about the project and bond.
Another speaker at the luncheon was Kayce Arthun, State Director
for the March of Dimes. Arthun offered a brief history of the
March of Dimes stating, "The March of Dimes was founded
to find a cure for polio and once the Salk vaccine was discovered,
all babies since the 1950's have been vaccinated. Since then,
the March of Dimes has moved on to preventing birth defects."
Ketchikan's annual Walk America will be held on Saturday, May
6th beginning at the Alaskan and Proud Market, making a loop
through downtown and returning to A & P. Volunteers form
teams with corporate sponsors to raise funds. Many individuals
will raise additional amounts by holding bake sales, car washes
and selling cutouts.
In past years Ketchikan has had a turn-out of 250 to 300 walkers.
Arthun encouraged everyone in the audience to participate and
for businesses to sponsor at least one team. As an added incentive,
the one person that collects the highest amount will be rewarded
with a round trip ticket for two from Alaska Airlines.
Next week's guest speaker at the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of
Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, March 15th will be David Hauck,
representing Ketchikan Packing, LLC.
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
who produces and sells articles to a publisher such as SitNews.
Contact Marie at mlmx1[at]hotmail.com
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