SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Are you serious?
By Rodney Dial


August 15, 2006

I found Mr. Bergeron's letter "Some Thoughts on Consolidation" like most letters written by consolidation supporters, long on emotion, short on substance and devoid of any supporting information. The problem with your "Empirical weatherman" analogy is that we can't simply stick our head out the window and see what consolidation will bring to Ketchikan. If we could your weatherman would tell us to run, a storm was approaching.

Since Mr. Bergeron wants to compare Ketchikan with the consolidated governments of Juneau and Sitka, let's debate on the facts, not emotion.

First, Mr. Bergeron claims that he has heard "No one in Sitka or Juneau yearning for the (their) old system of two governments". The fact that Mr. Bergeron has not heard this proves nothing. It is just as likely that the residents of these communities realize that they can never undo what was done.

Anyway, let's look at what the facts show us about Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, and see which community is doing better.Consolidated or Not Consolidated.

Alaska Per Capita Income by Area

Ketchikan Gateway Borough $38,343
Juneau, City and Borough of $36,668
Sitka, City and Borough of $31,467


Housing affordability

The following is taken from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation

For Ketchikan, 1st quarter FY06 single family residence was 198,345.

"The average sales price for a single-family home was highest in Anchorage (consolidated government) during the second half of 2005 at $293,585. The average sales price in Anchorage increased 11 percent from year-ago levels.
· The second highest average sales price for a single-family home was reported in Juneau at $280,771. The average sales price in Juneau was up five percent from year-ago levels." The average median housing price in Sitka is $230.000 (existing) and $300,000 (new)



Consolidation is even bad for renters.
Renters in Sitka applied the largest percentage of their household income toward rent they paid 27.9%, while Wade Hampton Census Area and Denali Borough at 15.6% and 15.8% paid the least.

2006 median rent (3) bedroom house:

Ketchikan $1184
SITKA $1358
Juneau $1429




Statewide, the weighted-average costs of the market basket (set amount of assorted construction materials used for comparison) ranged from a low of $19,262 in Ketchikan to a high of $44,081 in Barrow. Note: Local taxes greatly affect construction costs.

Average Price for Construction Materials Table 6-1
Alaska Suppliers 2006
Market Basket Items

Juneau $26,454
Sitka $25,420


(NOTE: Both Juneau and Sitka have special taxes that Ketchikan does not have, for example Sitka taxes fuel, Juneau taxes Alcohol and other items. As consolidated communities, Juneau and Sitka were able to raise these additional taxes WITHOUT a vote of the people. In a Non-Consolidated Government those taxes can only be raised by a vote of the people.)

Juneau City and Borough Total Local Taxes
FY05 68,053,800 ÷ 2005 population 31,193 = $2181.70
and State of Alaska, Department of Labor and workforce development (population info)

Sitka City and Borough Taxes (property, sales, bed tax, fuel tax)
FY05 $13,431,035 ÷ 2005 population 8,947 = $1523.63
Source Click Here State of Alaska, and Department of Labor and workforce development

Ketchikan Gateway Borough Total Local Taxes (we have no fuel tax)
FY05 $12,208,000 ÷ 2005 population 13,125 =$930.13
Source borough budget FY05-06
and State of Alaska, Department of Labor and workforce development (population info) Note: The Borough is responsible for collecting all taxes within its boundaries, including those taxes due the Cities of Ketchikan and Saxman.
City of Ketchikan (sales and property)
City FY05 $7,593800 + KGB $12,208,000 = 19,801,800 ÷ 2005 population 13125 =$1508.70

WINNER KETCHIKAN NON-CONSOLIDATED (note: Both Juneau and Sitka have numerous fees and costs, some passed on through their public utilities, which are higher and make the difference even more profound Also, both communities have significant bonded indebtedness not included in the above figures. Finally, the consolidation document says that property taxes for all island residents will rise by at least 2 mills in the first year after consolidation).

So why are the consolidated governments of Juneau and Sitka so much more expensive to live in? Because of the transfer of State responsibilities to the local level. Consolidation supporters are well aware of this, IT IS IN THE CONSOLIDATION DOCUMENT YOU WILL VOTE ON. Consolidation would not even have been approved by the Local Boundary Commission if it did not meet the following:

 Part 7. Whether the Proposed Consolidated Borough Serves the Best Interests of the State
AS 29.05.130(a) provides that the LBC may grant the consolidation Petition only if the Commission determines that the proposal is in the best interests of the State. The LBC is guided by 3 AAC 110.065 and 3 AAC 110.980 in making the requisite best interests determination.

See where the above document says that the LBC is guided by 3AAC 110.05? AAC stands for Alaska Administrative Code. If you look up this section, under paragraph number three it reads "(3) will relieve the state government of the responsibility of providing local services."

What Mr. Bergeron's "Empirical weatherman" failed to mention was that after Juneau and Sitka consolidated they both lost Trooper Coverage, State supplied road maintenance and other services that they had to make up by raising local taxes.

It has been over a decade since Juneau consolidated and it still effects their budget today here is an excerpt from their budget documents just this year. It is word for word from their document. Verify for yourself at

Juneau 2006

When discussing growth management, it is important to distinguish between the various types of services provided by the CBJ and how these services are funded. While all of the services we provide require operational revenues, the sources vary greatly. General governmental functions and local support for education are largely supported through property and sales tax levies while other functions such as the hospital, utilities, airport, and harbor services are funded through user fees. In addition, there has been some shift in who provides the service. Due to budget constraints, the state has stopped providing some required local services. Local governments have assumed many of the more critical services. One of the most visible examples of this shift was the elimination of State Trooper law enforcement services in Juneau. By default, the Juneau Police Department ultimately assumed this public safety service. Service shifting has resulted in a significant operational impact to the CBJ that continues to show in the budget. In FY93, the total operating budget for the Juneau Police Department (JPD) was $5.16 million. The FY06 revised budget includes $10.0 million in proposed funding for the JPD. A large portion of this 94% increase can be attributed to services previously provided by the State.


No matter where you live in Ketchikan, City, north or south, you are simply a fool if you vote for consolidation. Sorry, I don't want to name call, but you are being played by special interests who could care less about the increased taxes you will pay as long as they can make consolidation happen. They stand to benefit financially, while everyone else loses.

It is no coincidence that almost all consolidation supporters fall into one of three groups:

1. Governmental officials (current / former)
2. Business
3. Special Interests

How many of these groups do you belong to Mr. Bergeron?

The more you know, the more it's NO.

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 Viewpoint:

letter Some Thoughts on Consolidation By Samuel Bergeron - Ketchikan, AK - USA

Related Information:

Ketchikan Charter Commission



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