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
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.
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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