By Rodney Dial
June 26, 2006
The following information is completely true, and is based upon a review of the Current Consolidation Document (over 200 pages long), October 2005 amendments to the Consolidation Document, State Statues, and news archives.
The economic value of the services provided by the Troopers on this island is approximately 2 million dollars per year. If consolidation occurs, Ketchikan will instantly become the only Unified Home Rule Municipality in the State with full Trooper coverage /services. The Consolidation Commission is aware of this potential problem and sent a letter on 9/3/04 to Public Safety Commissioner Tandeske, discussing this topic. Commissioner Tandeske responded on 9/15/04 that he felt consolidation would not result in the removal of Troopers from Ketchikan but went on to say "However, there have been discussions overtime regarding potential legislation that could require municipalities to provide certain services. Clearly, public safety services could be a part of such legislation".
Consolidation supporters attempt to quell the fear that massive new spending / taxes will be required to compensate for the loss in State funding in areas such as Public Safety, by stating that those services will only be provided on a area-wide basis, with voter approval. However, this is simply not true. As alluded to in the aforementioned letter from Commissioner Tandeske, legislation can require municipalities to provide such services.
Research shows that this very thing has already happened, and will happen here if consolidation occurs. One such case occurred in the early 90's involving the Municipality of Anchorage, and the Hillside area (outskirts of Anchorage). The short version of this story is this.
The City of Anchorage wanted the troopers to stop providing public safety services to the Hillside. This would allow the City to require the residents of this area to pay a service fee (increased property taxes) for Anchorage Police Protection. The City knew that the Hillside, which had low crime, would need fewer Police services than other locations in the City, but would pay an equal amount for coverage. In doing so the City believed they would benefit from economy of scale.
The issue was brought to the
residents of the Anchorage Hillside for a vote, and as can be
expected, they did not want to start paying for something they
were receiving for free. When the residents voted down Anchorage
Police Protection, things got dirty. It is believed that what
happened next was that the Mayor of Anchorage went to the Governor,
requesting assistance, and that the Governor directed then Public
Safety Commissioner Richard Burton to remove Troopers from Hillside
to force them to accept the increased taxes. The following news
articles give you a taste of what is in store for Ketchikan.
A move to pull state trooper patrols out of the Anchorage Hillside may force residents there to pay taxes if they want police service. Twice in four years Hillsiders have voted against using and paying for city police. They now get state trooper coverage, backed up by the city police, for free.. But Dick Burton, new head of the Alaska State Troopers, said his officers have better things to do. He said he wants to beef up highway patrols and statewide fraud and homicide units..[Read article (fee) www.adn.com]
POLICE TAX IRKS HILLSIDE
Author: CHARLES WOHLFORTH
The Hillside residents were stomping mad. They packed the Service High School auditorium, cheering and booing, shouting down speakers, and alleging conspiracy and lies by the mayor, assembly members and police officials present. These were the community leaders of Anchorage's most affluent district. At the meeting last week, they made it clear they do not want to pay for city police protection. Some city officials consider ballot Proposition 11, which would bring the Anchorage [Read article (fee) www.adn.com]
HILLSIDE MAY YET SEE POLICE AND TAXES KUBITZ PLAN COULD OVERRULE VOTER REJECTIONS
Author: CHARLES WOHLFORTH
Anchorage Assembly members, the mayor and legislators are batting around an idea to force Hillside residents to pay for their police protection. Assembly chairman Jim Kubitz advanced the idea at a meeting of the legislature's Anchorage caucus last week, when Sen. Sam Cotten, D-Eagle River, asked him how the Hillside, which is now protected by the Alaska State Troopers, could be taxed for Anchorage Police Department patrols instead.. Kubitz suggested forming a citywide police [Read article (fee) www.adn.com]
TROOPER DEADLINE NEAR; HILLSIDERS SEEK A DELAY
Author: CHARLES WOHLFORTH
The Hillside's feared Nov. 1 deadline for loss of Alaska State Trooper protection is not as much to be feared and not as much of a loss as voters of the area were told before they turned down Anchorage Police Department protection Oct. 1. As the Friday deadline nears, Hillside community leaders are preparing for the trooper cutback by asking Gov. Wally Hickel for a 60-day extension and by forming a task force, which meets for the first time tonight, to try to solve the problem.. [Read article (fee) www.adn.com]
BILL WOULD FORCE POLICE ON HILLSIDE
Author: STEVE RINEHART
Hillside residents will have to take police service whether they want it or not under a bill Sen. Tim Kelly introduced in the legislature on Thursday. The bill, Kelly said, would require Anchorage to provide police service to all areas within the city limits. Kelly said he moved SB203 after Tuesday's city election, in which just two of five areas of Southeast Anchorage voted themselves into the city police service district. The upper and lower Hillside and Girdwood all rejected the[Read article (fee)]
Why should you care if Troopers leave the island?
This is enormously expensive risk for this community, and would represent massive spending increases, with no increase in the services provided.
Still not convinced that Consolidation is a bad idea? Consolidation will also negatively effect our senior population.
The Consolidated Governments of Juneau and Anchorage, have both worked toward elimination of tax exemptions for seniors. Both communities view senior tax exemptions as unsustainable and unfunded liabilities. As previously discussed, consolidated / Unified Home Rule Municipalities are far more expensive than our current form of Government. If consolidation passes, you can expect the newly formed government to do exactly what Juneau is doing RIGHT now; elimination of senior tax exemptions. The following articles can be viewed in their entirety by going to the Juneau Empire website..
Task force considers senior tax exemption
By JASON STEELE
City leaders fear legacy
of growing debt
Boomers may bust city coffers
Older residents get a tax break,
but Juneau debates who will pay
The city has begun a debate over tax exemptions that aid the growing ranks of older residents "I am uncomfortable with putting so much debt onto the shoulders of our younger generations," Juneau Assembly member Jonathan Anderson said. "The current generation is paying for [Read article (fee) www.adn.com]
Seniors take note.regardless of what promises consolidation supporters may make to you, know that they will give you NO guarantee that the sales tax exemption will continue if consolidation occurs. You will be risking what you have for an unknown.
I could fill several more pages on the negative consequences we will all experience should the voters approve consolidation. I encourage all residents to do the research for themselves, and to carefully decipher the carefully crafted arguments of supporters.
There should be no doubt of the real purpose of consolidation. It is not about saving money, for if it were so, taxes would be going down, not increasing. Its about increasing the power of the local government in a way that eliminates the current tax cap and the ability of the people to vote on new taxes.
I would suggest to my fellow citizens that the money that Consolidation will cost you could be better spent paying off your bills, saving for retirement or for the future college needs of your children.
I believe so strongly that Consolidation will damage our community I have spent $500.00 of my own money buying 1000 bumper stickers (pictured below). If anyone is willing to help me oppose consolidation, and place a bumper sticker on their vehicle, please email me and I will personally see that you get as many stickers as you can use.
Please join me in voting NO on Consolidationand let's keep our community an affordable place to live.
About: Lifelong Alaskan who
loves Ketchikan the way it is, and doesn't want to see it become
a mini Anchorage.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.