By Rodney Dial
June 06, 2011
I was optimistically hopeful that Ketchikan government spending was leveling off, and our elected officials were going to cool it on the insane spending over the last few years. I truly thought… what else can they spend money on?... just about every group has received something, lately, and government spending has been increasing by millions per year even though our population has been declining.
As you may have recalled our Governments promised us… repeatedly…that support of projects such as the new pool would not result in our taxes going up. They often said this with a straight face knowing that moving around pots of money would make their statement technically true. However when the entire expenditures are compared to total revenue the money just isn’t there. Anyone with a moderate level of intelligence knew that local government was playing a shell game that would, and has resulted in higher taxes.
The following is a short recap on money spent on your behalf over the last few years:
Regardless of if you feel some, or all of these purchases are appropriate keep in mind that both Governments are, and have been operating on reserves, and can’t maintain the infrastructure we already have.
If the things mentioned so far in this letter bother you, don’t hate the messenger. They come from the City’s and Borough’s annual legislative funding requests. Their words, not mine.
I know that the moment our financial situation is really examined, supporters of excessive spending turn to emotional arguments, because really the facts are… what they are. I would like to respond to the boilerplate arguments that we always hear for why we should spend ourselves into oblivion:
The Tax burden for Ketchikan City residents is the HIGHEST in the entire region. City residents pay 100% more in property taxes then residents in Sitka…. DOUBLE! Sitka also has a lower overall sales tax rate. So for all you people who feel we are under-taxed please have the courage to tell us what you feel would be the “do not cross” limit on taxes? If double the amount of other locations is not enough… then what is?
Our future will certainly contain massive federal tax increases. Only foolish leaders would raise our local taxes now.
I took the following pictures at this year’s annual legislative party in Juneau, a few months back. Each year our local governments fly numerous local officials and city/borough employees to two days of meetings, dinners, and partying in Juneau. Your tax dollars RENT the entire Prospector Restaurant and Bar in downtown Juneau and thrown a custom catered event with FREE food and alcohol for anyone in JUNEAU. This yearly event attracts hundreds of people, many of them young adults who come to get drunk at your expense. This year in addition to the free bar and catered food, they also had smoked brie, various sea foods, gourmet desserts, and hundreds of door prizes.
This insane waste happens every year! Other Southeast Communities do not spend tax payer money throwing a city wide party in Juneau each year, and guess what… THEIR TAXES ARE SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER!
How have your taxes been raised lately?
• KPU TAX….How many caught the “in the dead of the night” actions of the City leaders regarding your utility bills a few months back? How many of you know that the City transferred responsibility for funding the non-profits to KPU? That’s right, the entity that has a monopoly and provides your electricity, water, sewer, and for some of you telecommunication services, now funds various non-profits and uses part of your utility payments to “give away money” to various groups like the arts council.
Had KPU not been made into a social engineering experiment they could have used their revenue to reduce or eliminate the “diesel surcharge” we are all burdened with, or to improve the water treatment situation to keep our water from containing cancer causing elements. The City made this change because they can’t fund the non profits with existing revenue, and lack the courage to reduce spending.
• KPU TAX #2…. Your water rates have increased over the last few years at rates SEVERAL times that of inflation.
• PROPERTY TAX INCREASE… Even though City residents now pay on average DOUBLE the tax of other SE Communities, and have the Highest property tax in the region, On 6/2/11 City Government increased the mill rate EVEN HIGHER. The owner of an average home in the City received a $250 increase on 6/2, which just increased your monthly tax payment by over $20 dollars. This tax increase will also be passed on to you by all the merchants in town, so get ready for higher food and good costs.
• Numerous fee increases
What really gets my blood boiling regarding all these taxes is that many of our local officials that support tax increases DON’T PAY THEM and are EXEMPT. City council member Jack Shay is a prime example. Shay, the architect of the property tax increase is eligible for a 150 thousand dollar property tax exemption, and 100% Sales Tax Exemption! What does he care if taxes are raised?
Please Mr. Shay do tell us how you “paid your fair share” back in the days Ketchikan had a 1 mill property tax rate (has increased over 1200%, even higher if property assessments are considered) or when sales taxes were a third of what they are now. If you truly represented ALL the people you would not claim ANY tax exemptions, or not vote on any motion to increase taxes.
It's well past time the citizens of this community exercise a little control of those that claim they are leading us. Educate yourself on your family’s finances, and the direction our nation is heading regarding taxes. We all face a reduced standard of living, longer working careers before retirement (if possible) the inability to support our children through college, the “pricing out” of our community to the point our kids can not afford to live here, and the inability to do the fun things in life because we simply can’t afford them.
If you think $11,826.00 is not too much of a tax burden for your family (more now that taxes were just increased) and that it is ok for your governments to spend tens of thousands of dollars throwing parties in Juneau… then there is simply nothing I can say except… you’re a sheep…good luck, and may the government provide for all your needs.
Received June 03, 2011 - Published June 06, 2011
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