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One Government, One Voice, One Community
by Glen Thompson


September 16, 2004

By now, everyone knows I'm a strong supporter of consolidation. It simply makes no sense for 13,000 people on this island to have two governments (maybe more depending on how you look at it) that seem to often work at cross-purposes.

There are built-in inequities in this situation: 85% of commerce and associated sales taxes are collected inside the city limits while 40% of the people live in rural areas so about 33% of city sales tax is paid by non-city residents who receive limited benefit from them.

Ketchikan Public Utilities is owned by the city yet provides service to the rural areas who have no say in prices or management. KPU also includes the city water utility and there is concern that city water is subsidized by electric and/or telephone rates.

The city in turn operates the hospital, mental health services, library, museum, 911 dispatch, civic center and provides maintenance and operation on harbors in the rural area that benefit everyone yet are paid only from city coffers. We have two managers, assistant managers, attorneys, clerks, finance directors, human resource directors and public works directors.

The key to consolidation is to maintain current services without unfairly raising taxes. I believe our commission has proposed a plan that will do that: it's not perfect and involves a lot of compromise and consensus but it is a workable solution.

Key points of our petition:

  • Ten mil Property tax cap with no proposed increase in property taxes
  • Five votes (2/3 supermajority) to raise any taxes or fees.
  • Seven at-large assembly members
  • Areawide services paid for by areawide taxes
  • Home Rule Borough with Assembly/Manager form of government
  • Areawide decision making on KPU and hospital issues
  • School Board remains independent
  • Assets used exclusively within the current City remain in new Gateway Service Area
  • Saxman remains independent, but part of the consolidated municipality
  • Complete review of all current Codes and Ordinances

The Alaska Local Boundary Commission will review the petition, conduct public hearings, and hopefully schedule a vote in early 2006 and as Governor Murkowski recently said "it's about time": One Government, One Voice, One Community.


Glen Thompson
Ketchikan Charter Commission
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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