By Samuel Bergeron
September 26, 2005
City Council candidates and city council members gave us many hypotheses on why the bond proposition for the north end dock and upland improvements failed, including the explanation that the voters did not know what they were voting for. They are now determined to go forward with the dock expansion now that they are armed with this new understanding of the why the bond proposition was voted down. I only wish that these Candidates would understand they don't have the ability to read my mind and yours. The reason I voted no on this bond is because the City and our elected leaders on the council have been excessively eager to please the cruise industry all the while ignoring your concerns and mine about quality of life issues: Namely how much is enough and how can we have unbridled development while preserving a semblance of a downtown that addresses some of the concerns of our year-round residents.
Don't misinterpret my comments to mean I oppose continued development of the tourism industry. I'm for development of all sectors of our economy; controlled development. The community needs to have a shared vision of how tourism can be benefit this place beyond what has transpired. I don't think a boarded up downtown in the wintertime and horse-drawn tours going two miles an hour and our new nickname of "Gem Town" entirely meets that "Shared" vision.
We need leaders that understand that leadership is having a vision for what the future can bring and getting buy-in from the people who have something to gain or lose. We need to ask ourselves some basic questions: How much is enough: tourists, jewelry stores, horse drawn- tours and the like. We need to take a poll of the people who elect the council and mayor so these elected officials will have a chance to get it right as far as the will of the community is concerned. Far too often I see people get elected and push their vision or somebody else's as public policy. Quit guessing what our needs and wants are and ask us in a poll. Stop making grandiose assumptions what we said at a no vote on a bond issue and ask us some questions so you may have some guidance in addressing what we, the public, want.
We were all told about the uplands development on the future docks to allow for the additional thousands of tourist, what is stopping us from doing the much needed uplands development on the docks we have now? Show us how good it can be now by adding: public restrooms, phones and revised traffic pattern and increased safety for the tourist and locals alike. Make a spot that some of our locals can sell their wares that have a true local flavor that meets a criterion we can all get behind and endorse.
Continued growth in tourism should mean a substantive reward to the rest us in the form lower taxes because of the off-set in revenues received by the City. Instead of lowering taxes, our City fathers have stashed 20-30 plus million dollars in the bank in the name of reserves and fiscal responsibility. When a municipality has reserves in excess of 100% of its budget, in some parts of this nation, you would be mandated by law to spend those reserves down and stop gouging your tax base by reducing taxes. I have said that it is the function of the citizens of Ketchikan to amass wealth, not the City. We charge 6% sales tax on residential rent and on food, that targets those of us who can least afford to pay. Sales tax is an unfair tax because it taxes all of us at the same rate, regardless of your ability to pay.
Spend those reserves down and end this tax that takes food and shelter away from our residents. Keep more money in circulation by lowering taxes, (sales and property) instead of having our city fathers bank it. Show some vision. Ask us what we want with the future of Ketchikan and we'll tell you.
Thanks for listening,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.