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An alternative tax worth looking at
by Patrick Jirschele


June 12, 2004

There are alternatives to sales and property tax. They are still taxes, but I think that at least one is worth looking at. First some interesting facts.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles in 2003 there was 8,169 passenger cars and 4,037 pickups for a total of 12,206 passenger vehicles in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

According to the 2000 census there was 10,564 people over the age of sixteen. That is more than one vehicle for every person who could possibly drive.

It is about thirty-two miles from one end of the road to the other.

The hardest thing to find downtown is a parking spot. (OK, this is my observation.)

A bypass is being built to, it is thought, relieve the traffic and it will cost nearly thirty million dollars for less than a mile if you add up all the phases.

Let that sink in for a moment. It sounds like it comes from the pages of "Ripley s Believe it or Not ".

You pay a motor vehicle registration tax when you license your vehicle. The tax is $152 for a 2004 model and it regresses to $18 for a 1997 model [state info]. After that I assume there is no tax. I don t know how much this is generating now, but there are a lot of old vehicles on the road that are not paying a tax.

OK here is the tough part. Raise the tax to $200 per year for all vehicles. 12,000 vehicles times $200 is 2.4 million dollars.

Take that 2.4 million and install enclosed bus shelters from one end of the pavement to the other end. Now run buses from 5am to 11pm on the half-hour, reliably, seven days a week. Give each vehicle owner a pass good for 100 rides as incentive to try the bus. And lastly, keep the buses and shelters repaired and clean.

What could this give us? Maybe some incentive to get some dangerous junkers off the road. Maybe a kid or two will save for college instead of buying a car, because he or she no longer needs one. Maybe a family can get by with one car and not two or three. Maybe some older folks who live out of town could stay in their homes after they can no longer drive. Maybe the City won't have to build a multi-million dollar parking structure. Maybe we can keep traffic from getting worse than it is, or it may even improve.

Maybe we can keep the property tax cap where it is and stop the proliferation of "For Sale" signs.

Patrick Jirschele
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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