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Why You Need To Vote "NO" On Cruise Ship Bonds On August 16th
By Walt Bolling


August 04, 2005

Anyone 18 years old or older is qualified to vote on bonding your city for the cruise ship industry. If that person has lived in the city for 30 days (and says she or he will remain or intends to remain) that person does not need to own any property. That voter can pledge your home or property to insure repayment of the money borrowed if the bond issue passes.

The mayor and council say your property taxes will not go up. We all know, or should know, that the council need not raise your taxes to get more or higher taxes from you. All that needs to happen is for the assessor to increase the value of your property; your taxes then automatically go up. It is the combined value of all property that tells the bonding industry where the limits of your borrowing worth is. The more you bond to borrow, the less attractive is the investment to the bond buyer. In other words, it's your "credit rating."

The council and mayor also say, "Taxpayers will not be at risk." If that is so, ask yourself this question: why are the city residents required to vote yes? If there are no risks to the citizens, why must we vote yes? If the bond money is spent for the benefit of the cruise ship industry, then let them vote to pledge their property.

The bottom line is this: If you vote yes, you have given the city the power to borrow at least $70,000,000.00 to make it easy for ships to tie up at our docks. Who uses the docks in the off-season? No one. I've never seen a local boat tied to a big cruise ship dock.

In the city ads promoting yes votes, it states that improvement to the downtown dock would allow enjoyment year-round for locals. Yes, you may stroll around during the winter, from October to March, and look at boarded-up jewelry store fronts; however, you may not stroll around during tourist season. The city well knows this because they issue permits only to those doing business with the cruise ships. Why do the downtown docks continually need to be repaired? Simply because thousands of trips by big cruise ship tour buses each season shakes them apart.

In March this year, two cruise ship representatives appeared before the council and spoke about the importance and immediate need for the city to act to put in new docks. They said the city needed to act at once to make docks available for 2006. They told the council to act at once, even though it might be wrong (their words), and the council did as they were directed. They directed staff to get to work on new docks and set a date for a bonding election. What the representatives did not tell the council was about plans to have fewer ships coming to Ketchikan beginning in 2006. Fewer ships mean fewer dollars in head taxes. This equates to fewer dollars to pay bonds off. Who pays if this continues? Take a guess.

Do we really want more cruise ships? Hasn't the cruise ship industry already spoiled the very thing that appealed to the early tourists? Haven't they already spoiled our town and attitudes? It's no longer our town. We allowed it to happen through greed. We lost interest in what we should have preserved. We no longer have a friendly community. We no longer have Mom and Pop businesses. We know very few downtown merchants.

The public is just now becoming aware of another problem we must face: water and its purity. All of a sudden we will face another bonding issue to vote on; estimates run to some 30 to 35 million dollars for new filtration facilities. Which should be our priority? I would vote for water, good safe water, not cruise ships.

I know many will consider my opinions as negative; many locals are tied to tour ship issues and will work to get the bond issue passed. Even the city council has authorized $25,000.00 to be spent to get a "Yes" vote. You, the voter, however, must decide for yourself what is in your and the city's best interest. YOU are responsible. If anything written here has given you food for thought or concern, that is not enough. You must go vote. As for myself, I'll wait and vote for clean water.

Walt Bolling
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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