SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Spend, Spend, Spend
By Samuel Bergeron


June 27, 2009

The majority of elected officials on the City Council and Borough Assembly seem to be thinking of more ways to indenture the fewer and fewer taxing units (that's you and me), while at the same time exporting our economy to outside contractors and vendors. The recent construction contracts for Berths 3 and 4, and the design of the Way-finding signs are just a few examples of this process.

The City and Borough governments do not need more money; they need to spend the money they have more wisely. It's not a difficult concept to understand that if you take out a mortgage or a lease (Berth 4 or the new Borough offices as examples) someone has to pay for it in the form of sales tax, property tax and user fees.

The elected officials seem to want it all. A new Borough office building (the Assembly approved the lease without asking you and me for $45000.00/ month plus utilities when the could have rented offices on Main St. for $4500.00/month), long-term leasing of Berth 4 (taxpayers said no twice to that one and the City Council did it anyway leaving you are on the hook for the lease payments when the passenger count is not big enough to fund the lease), a new library, new fire station (how about fixing the ones we have now?), and a new swimming pool. The proposed new library and pool project would no doubt be an asset to the community, but the price and size of these projects needs to align with the declining population and economy we are now faced with. These projects should, as with all municipal projects, start with a reasonable budget, and not only based on what we want, but what we can afford and sustain. If you want to teach kids to swim immediately, we can reopen Valley Park pool for around $200,000.00.

Before we plan for new facilities we need to address the crumbling infrastructure we have now. That should come first. The wooden streets and bridge repairs are huge project in their own right in cost and size. We have to pay for that. Replacement of electric poles, street paving and repair, and water and sewer projects have already been identified and are ready to become our next emergencies. We have no funding source lined up for these projects in their entirety, except you and me. All the while we are forgetting the economic crisis we are in now and the debt the federal government is assuming.

We are in the biggest economic decline since 1929 and the focus has been on more and better government buildings when the many of the taxpayers (who don't a PERS retirement, government healthcare, guaranteed income from our government jobs for life) are tasked to provide to others what we ourselves don't have. It's outrageous. Live within the means that we the tax payers can provide, and work hard to find outside funding for the projects we need to keep our community viable, but that we alone may not be able to provide. I don't want more government, I want less. The time has come to cut the size and cost of government dramatically. Cut jobs and expenses and do it now. Lower my taxes and quit planning to spend money we don't have.

Sales tax is the most unethical tax we have. The local government's tax essential items such as food, rent and heating fuel as well many other items and services. The government taxes everyone who buys those items, whether that person can afford to pay it or not. You are literally taking food, shelter and heat away from the individual and giving to the government, some of whom (our neighbors) are struggling to keep themselves fed, warm and dry. The City and Borough governments don't have a better use for your money than food, shelter and heat, especially from the poor and struggling. So if you want to raise the sales tax to pay for your projects, I will be leading the charge against it and promise you an up-hill battle.

See you at the ballot box.

Samuel Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

Received June 27, 2008 - Published June 27, 2009


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