By Zig Ziegler
April 01, 2006
These improvements will allow for the existing visitor industry traffic that we enjoy to continue. My hopes are that with these improvements and the addition of a privately financed Berth IV, we will see a return to the number of visitors that we had in 2005. Moreover, the renovation of City Float will create a facility better suited to our local and visiting smaller boat traffic. The promenade will become a welcome addition to local foot traffic as well to the visitors.
In 2006, this community will experience a 10% reduction in the number of cruise ship visitors. This equates to approximately 100,000 people who won't be shopping, charter fishing, flightseeing, kayaking, duck touring, eating or otherwise spending money here. The reason: current port facilities are not adequate. In order to just maintain the level of activity we had in 2005, new facilities must be built in time for use in 2007 or further losses can be anticipated. Loss of revenue from this industry means businesses will not make as much, reducing employment. Sales tax revenues will be lost requiring local government to cut costs, reduce services, or raise taxes.
The bond issue the City is proposing is for an amount not to exceed $38.5 million. The money pledged to pay back this issue is generated from port fees. Any fees collected from port use, must, by Federal Law, be spent on port facilities. Even in the unlikely event of a complete loss of all port users, this bond issue creates virtually no risk for the City of Ketchikan.
Support of this bond issue is critical to the economy of Ketchikan. The amount of revenue the visitor industry contributes to our town is staggering. Over 25% of our sales tax dollars come directly from this industry. Remember, our tax rates actually declined after the loss of the pulp mill, solely due to the growth of the visitor traffic. Remember, too, the the City of Ketchikan contributes handsomely to many nonprofit organizations. These organizations rely on those monies to give us programs and services that would not be available otherwise.
In the Newtown area, from north of the tunnel to the Lutheran church, a new commercial district will be created. The buildings will be renovated. New businesses will have a chance to prosper, creating new employment opportunities. There is an effort ongoing to make sure that the makeover of this commercial area will be sensitive to the historical look of Ketchikan. The outcome will enhance property valuations, further contributing to our economic well-being.
By stretching the area that visitors explore we will see less congestion and better traffic flow. Better bus and tour staging is an important part of what the bond issue addresses.
This means less stress on existing parking, better signage to move people about and a nicer looking town, overall.
There are some who believe that tourists traffic is more hassle than benefit. To those, I urge you to explore the numbers and see how they impact every facet of what makes this town's economy tick. There isn't a person in this community, newborn to retired, that doesn't benefit in some way. Lower tax rates, business and employment opportunities, excellent healthcare and education facilities, arts and humanities that communities 5 times our size can only dream about, a flourishing native culture, and so much more are all reasons to support this bond issue.
We have the advantage of living in a community that people are willing to pay to come and visit. All we have to do is provide the infrastructure for them to do so conveniently, spend some time and money here and travel on. It is an industry that doesn't disrupt our natural beauty, on the contrary, it helps us to realize that we must protect it. All it costs us to support this bond issue is a YES vote on April 11. That is all.
Please, get out an support this bond with your vote on April 11.
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