SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Tax increase is not the answer
By Samuel Bergeron


March 02, 2009

Each morning a young family with two young kids waits for the school bus. Some mornings the children have an uncooked Top Ramen noodles to eat for breakfast and say they are hungry. Obviously this is the best the parents can do for their children. The City Council is now considering raising the sales tax the parents of these children pay at the grocery store for food, on the rent they pay to their landlord, and on the clothes they buy at the thrift store.

It's apparent that the recession we are now in will be prolonged and deep. What should the City of Ketchikan do? We should live within our means.

The City of Ketchikan has about $20,000,000. in reserves, and KPU has millions more. To put that into perspective, if you had stacks of $1000. bills arranged end to end, it would go for 1.933 miles. So you could, if you were so inclined, walk along the city's savings account, in a neat line of $1000. bills, for almost 2 miles. How did the City amass so much of your money? Very simply; over budget, base taxes and user fees on an inflated budget and under spend. Then, bank the difference between what was budgeted and what was actually spent.

Some of the City Council members feel it's imperative that they always have millions of your dollars in the bank. Instead of spending down the reserves that you helped put in place, they want to increase taxes in the middle of the largest financial crisis since 1929.

After seeking available State and Federal funding, the City of Ketchikan's savings account (or reserves) should be spent down to fund the much needed bridge repairs instead of raising taxes; no question. In times like these, with a declining economy, declining population and a healthy bank account like the City has, a tax hike is a ludicrous proposition.

It appears the sole purpose of the tax hike is to continue funding a city bureaucracy that has outgrown the declining populations' ability to fund it. We need to make some of the same tough decisions many of you are making now, and start asking ourselves how we can cut the size and cost of government.

The function of government is not to amass money, but to spend it wisely and within its means and capability of the tax payers to fund it. This year alone, the City is budgeting to spend over $1,000,000 of bank reserves to fund government operations. They have budgeted almost $6,000,000 more in reserves for one time capital repairs and projects. Private enterprise would not continue to employ a workforce larger than what it can afford; government needs to follow that example. We should maintain our infrastructure and reduce our underlying cause of budget shortfalls.

Increasing sales tax is unethical; this is no way to treat our neighbor who is struggling to stay warm and fed. Join me in telling those who would increase taxes to preserve their bank account that this tax increase is not the answer. The answer is to live within our means, make the hard choices; not to tax those of us who are struggling, even to buy Top Ramen.

Samuel Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Samuel Bergeron is a City Council Member, past Borough Assembly member, past Planning Commissioner, past KIC Tribal Council member and president, and business owner."

Received March 01, 2009 - Published March 02, 2009


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Ketchikan, Alaska