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"Land Swap" Current "Hot Button" Issue at Borough Level
by Glen Thompson


September 15, 2004

The current "hot button" issue at the Borough Level is the "Land Swap". As candidate for Borough Assembly, I want to expand on my opposition to this transaction. The Land Swap represents a grant of over a million dollars to the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council (KAAHC). Although my wife and I are staunch supporters of the arts community, I continue to oppose the Land Swap for the following reasons:

1. The Borough simply can't afford it. We are running deficit budgets and continually raising taxes just to fund public schools and health and safety programs. Whether this is a donation of cash or hard assets, it's still a million dollars coming out of the public coffers.

2. It does not appear to be a project within the scope of the Borough powers unless one loosely considers it to be economic development or recreation.

3. The sketchy business plan indicates that it would compete for tourist dollars with existing businesses. If it is indeed a viable project that generates sufficient cash flow, conventional financing should be available. The government should not compete with private enterprise.

4. The Borough should not require all citizens to donate to a non-profit organization by donating public assets or tax dollars. The supporters should raise funds directly from the public. When public radio lost its federal funding, they went to their listeners and said, if you want us on the air, pony up, they did.

5. There are existing public facilities available in the community for the arts community to use. There is a state-of-the-art, 800 seat auditorium in the high school that was built with the arts community in mind (and even KAAHC says that some productions would still have to be put on there since the proposed arts center would be too small). The Southeast AK Visitors Center (SEAVC) has facilities and there are facilities at the Civic Center and the Recreation Center not to mention our churches and other schools. We are told that KAAHC needs a central location because it is too difficult to constantly store and mobilize their equipment and/or staff and schedule events at various locations.

6. The Recreation Center and the Civic Center were both supposed to be essentially self-supporting (as we are being told about the Arts Center) but both require substantial subsidies. History tends to repeat itself.


Glen Thompson
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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