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Open Letter: No New Taxes!
by Robert D. Warner


May 17, 2004

Dear Members of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly:

As a citizen I express my opposition to your current plan for increasing our taxes. As I understand it, if we vote "no" on the proposed sales tax increase, you will increase our property taxes to cover the fiscal gap. You might do that anyway? The bottem line is that spending should be cut to cover the shortfall. While it is easy for me to make such statements, it is often difficult for you to make significant cuts without intense pressure from special interest groups. This year I encourage you to be strong and determined to make cuts in spite of this pressure.

Here are a few ideas:

(1) Eliminate all Borough grants to non profit special interest groups, especially State institutions such as the University of Alaska. Elimination of the UAS grant should be a top priority. It gives the University opportunity to spend more State money outside of Ketchikan.

(2) The State Legislature and hopefully the Governor have increased funding to education by a significant amount this year. This should help you freeze Borough funds to the schools at last year's level or better yet, reduce the amount by a percentage in line with cuts to other Borough departments.

(3) Reduce funding the Borough is obligated to pay the city's public library by at least 20 percent. While this would likely cause quite a shock to some city officials, it actually might help them to shape a realistic public library budget in line with the economic times we all are facing.

(4) I have heard that sales tax revenues have been significantly lower than projections and this is a major source of the fiscal gap. I also hear that the 2003 tourist season was one of the best on record. Why are sales tax revenues down so much when the tourist industry is booming? We need a full audit of their accounts to see why there is so much revenue seepage from tourism.

5. A audit or review of "economic development funds" is long overdue. Taxpayers need to know how much they are paying for schemes and plans that seem to go nowhere or have a return far lower than they cost. If we had a little less "economic development" with public funds, we could perhaps better serve the majority of citizens who live here.

6. Please don't focus all cuts on essential services that directly serve citizens in this community. The Borough bus is a good example. Perhaps we all could pay a dollar more to ride the Borough ferry to the airport, but let's keep the bus service. Some folks use the bus because they can't afford a automobile or are unable to drive.

Thank you for your consideration of my views. No new taxes!


Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK - USA


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