SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Stop the Free-Wheeling Spending
By Sam Bergeron


August 12, 2010
Thursday PM

The Ketchikan policy makers at the City and Borough have too much power. They can indenture us for life with 4 votes. The White Cliff building sale, then the subsequent lease backs to the Borough for $42,000.00 a month, with an escalation clause, is but one example. On the City side, the Berth 4 construction and 30 year lease, is another example of both bodies going way beyond the scope of what their powers should be.

I heard City Council member KJ Harris lament after he heard about the ballot initiative put forward on the library site say: what the hell are we here for anyway? He felt, as did the other council members, that they should have the final say on the library site, costs and funding sources. With the Cooper Ridge site, the City must come up with 25- 50% of the cost in real money (3-6 million dollars). If the library is built in the downtown, the value of the land and the building, (if the library is expanded in its present location) could be offered up as a match to the 50-50 grant. We can use head tax receipts or CPV funds (Commercial Passenger Vessel tax receipts) the City is now getting for the construction and operation if the library is located downtown. Those kinds of considerations, the costs and the funding sources, are more likely to be more fully considered in an expanded process. Not to mention the proposed library site is an active rock pit.

The City and Borough policy makers need to have their ability to enter into long-term leases and to make long-term financial commitments on our behalf severely limited. The idea that the elected bodies must take their ideas to us and explain fully what is they want to do and how they are going to pay for it, prior to any substantive financial commitment makes sense. That would go a long way to insure that due process has been engaged and you would have the community firmly behind the project. It s a basic concept of leadership to have buy-in from the people you represent. That buy-in has been sorely lacking. I think we should put in place limits on what these bodies can do without asking you first. Not only would the best interests of our community be met as a whole, but transparency to a process that has largely been a mystery would be illuminating to all.

Let's take the big questions to the voters and have elected officials deal with the day to day questions. The primary function of government is to spend its recourses wisely and do it with the permission of the electorate.

Thanks for listening.

Sam Bergeron
Ketchikan, AK

About: " Life-long Alaskan, concerned citizen, husband, father, brother and friend"

Received August 11, 2010 - Published August 12, 2010



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