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
The following is taken from
the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
For Ketchikan, 1st quarter FY06 single family residence
"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
· 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
(NOTE: THIS EFFECTS HOMES,
SCHOOLS, AND EVERY THING YOU PAY BONDS FOR)
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
(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
FY05 68,053,800 ÷ 2005 population 31,193 = $2181.70
and State of Alaska, Department of Labor and workforce development
Sitka City and Borough Taxes
(property, sales, bed tax, fuel tax)
FY05 $13,431,035 ÷
2005 population 8,947 = $1523.63
Here State of Alaska, and Department of Labor and workforce
Ketchikan Gateway Borough
Total Local Taxes (we have no fuel tax)
FY05 $12,208,000 ÷
2005 population 13,125 =$930.13
Source http://www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/main/index2.htm borough
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
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:
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
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
BUDGET HISTORY AND OVERVIEW
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
3. Special Interests
How many of these groups do
you belong to Mr. Bergeron?
The more you know, the more it's NO.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: "Lifelong Alaskan who loves Ketchikan the way it
is, and doesn't want to see it become a mini Anchorage."
Thoughts on Consolidation By Samuel Bergeron - Ketchikan,
AK - USA
Ketchikan Charter Commission
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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