by Glen Thompson
September 16, 2004
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:
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.
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