SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Consolidation: What they don't want you to know
By Rodney Dial


June 26, 2006

With the consolidation vote quickly approaching, supporters have been surprisingly quiet. Perhaps it because discussion of the true consequences of consolidation is something they would prefer you not think about.

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.


  • Consolidation will increase the property taxes of every family on this island. The current consolidation document states: areawide (City residents included) property taxes were projected to be increased by 2 mills to pay for expected increased costs relating to retirement and insurance.
  • Consolidation has NEVER in Alaskan history resulted in lower Government spending.
  • The services provided by the KGB and the City can be consolidated, without consolidating the Governments. In fact, many communities throughout the State currently have Memorandums of Agreement with each other to share governmental expenses.
  • Consolidation supporters are pushing consolidation with buzzwords such as "More efficient Government", please understand that this does not mean "Lower Cost". Think of it this way.Its like spending $4000 in bank fees refinancing your house to save $2000 in total interest payments. The money that Consolidation saves will be offset many times over by new, increased, and additional costs.
  • The estimated savings due to consolidation have decreased nearly 100% since the last (2000)-consolidation attempt. The costs of consolidation far outweigh any potential savings. A vote to consolidate does not guarantee that even a single dollar will be saved or that there will be a net loss of even one employee. This document does not bind the new consolidated government to save money, or reduce the number of governmental workers.
  • The consolidated borough will initially collect $115,273 more in property taxes, yet will still have to raise your taxes.
  • This statement is inserted in several places in the Consolidation Document that you will vote on: voter approval will be deemed to have been granted upon approval by those voters required for such measures during the consolidation election. Translationif you vote for consolidation, government can assume that you approve of any subsequent changes to the specific areas mentioned in the Consolidation Document and can implement them if desired, your future approval is not necessary.
  • Currently the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is a 2nd class entity. As a 2nd Class Borough, Alaska Statue (AS) 29.45.590, limits the maximum amount of taxes that can be imposed, and requires a vote of the people, prior to any new taxes. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE NOW.
  • The Current Borough Tax Cap is 8 Mills ($1600 per 200k) New Upper Tax Limit if Consolidation passes "30 Mills" ($6000 per 200k), see Alaska Statue 29.45.090. If you think that your taxes will not rise under consolidation, keep in mind that the original consolidation petition contained a 10 Mill tax cap, (20% increase over the current cap), but was removed because the City wanted to retain the ability to increase taxes to the State imposed max of 30 Mills.
  • If consolidation passes, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough will merge with the City and form a Unified Home Rule Municipality, just like Anchorage and Juneau.
  • Unified Home Rule Municipalities are the highest taxed locations in the State. A review of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation 2005 Report, shows that Anchorage had the highest and Juneau the second highest average home sales price. This fact, combined with the higher mill rates translates into the following average tax burden per household. Anchorage $4697, Juneau $3369, Ketchikan $1534. (Figures based upon the median avg. sale price of homes (2004/2005), and the communities avg. mill rate (individual rates in most cases are higher due to bond debt and other factors). SUPPORTERS WANT KETCHIKAN TO BE JUST LIKE ANCHORAGE & JUNEAU.
  • Unified Home Rule Municipalities (what we will become under consolidation) are more expensive to taxpayers for a number of reasons. One such reason is the transfer of responsibilities / costs, from the State to the local level. One expense that WILL transfer to the newly consolidated government is public safety funding, e.g. State Troopers.

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.

Daily News reporter Staff
Date: February 2, 1991
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: A1
Word count: 1077

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)]


Daily News Reporter Staff
Date: September 26, 1991
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: B1
Word count: 966

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)]


Daily News Reporter Staff
Date: March 1, 1991
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: E1
Word count: 817

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)]


Daily News reporter Staff
Date: October 28, 1991
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: A1
Word count: 961

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)]


Daily News reporter Staff
Date: April 23, 1993
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: B1
Word count: 458

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?

  • Loss of an estimated 2 million dollars in State funds annually to the economy of Ketchikan.
  • Loss of millions more per year from the economy due to the new taxes needed to replace the lost funding and expand KPD (how much sales tax revenue is lost?).
  • All residents (City folks included) will share in the cost of the massive multi-million dollar bonds that will be needed to expand KPD. Service areas will pay for the new police protection, but ALL residents will share in the infrastructure needed to support the expansion of KPD. For example, between 6-12 new police cruisers will be needed, facilities and personnel to maintain vehicles and support the officers, the current building will need to be expanded to accommodate the additional people, or new ones will need to be constructed, etc. Major communication upgrades will also be needed because current communication capabilities are limited to the City. To expand coverage to the outlying areas, repeater sites will need to be installed on mountain tops, north and south of town.

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

The Senior Sales Tax Exemption Task Force will meet Tuesday to hammer out its final recommendations for the tax break's future.

City leaders fear legacy of growing debt
Younger generations to inherit costs of senior and retirement programs

Boomers may bust city coffers
Sales tax exemption task force asks for public comments
Debate will heat up this spring when the Juneau Assembly decides whether to continue a senior sales tax exemption.

Older residents get a tax break, but Juneau debates who will pay
Author: The Associated Press WIRE
Date: April 25, 2006
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: B2 Word count: 284

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)]

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.

Thank you,

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: Lifelong Alaskan who loves Ketchikan the way it is, and doesn't want to see it become a mini Anchorage.


Related Information:

Ketchikan Charter Commission


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Send A Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska