SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Vote on October 5th
By Rodney Dial


September 21, 2010

As you vote on October 5th, I would ask that you look back to the spending over the last few years and consider our current fiscal condition:

Berths III, and IV constructed
Coast Guard Beach Purchase
Schoenbar School (projected cost $9 million, final cost over $20 million)
Library (likely approval with over a million spent so far)
Whitecliff liability
New Fire Station (?)

We have also had numerous maintenance and infrastructure related projects, and millions in increases to the annual budgets of local governments.

If there was anything we could hopefully agree on it should be that we need to take a pause with discretionary spending. We are starting to mirror the federal government and have effectively maxed out our community credit card. If we continue spending at our past rates we risk massive tax increases, cuts in services, and increased costs of borrowing.

We must keep in mind that every project that we build represents an additional asset that must be maintained. We need to preserve the ability to fund future repair and maintenance of our schools and other capital assets without tax increases.

The aforementioned projects represent nearly $200 million in bonded debt and contractual liabilities in just the last few years. For our current population that equates to nearly $15 thousand per individual, or $60 thousand per family. This of course does not include the other debt that we have incurred over the years and continue to pay for. To be fair some of the projects mentioned are funded by our visitors and various funds, but we must remember that the full faith and credit of our government ultimately is responsible for all liabilities, which means you and I.

In their 2011 Legislative Priority Project report, our local governments report the following to the State:

To meet the fiscal demands of local government, citizens of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough (city AND non city) shouldered the following impacts in the fiscal year that just ended:

$22,420,023 in taxes levied by the KGB
$7,489,429 in charges and fees imposed by the KGB
$14,210,799 in taxes levied by the City of Ketchikan
$19,739,150 in charges and fees imposed by the City of Ketchikan (excluding another $43.6 million in charges by KPU)

The figures above total $63,859,401 (million) which is equivalent to $11,826 per household in Ketchikan (per year)

These are the words of our local governmentsnot mine. Even with the recent tax adjustments made by the borough, we are one of the HIGHEST taxed communities in southeast Alaska, and only one other community in the entire State has a higher sales tax.

If this does not concern you enough, consider that our governments are running on reserves to maintain services, are increasing operating expenses with the new facilities coming on line, our tourism numbers and amount spent per passenger are down, we will soon face the loss of over a million per year in Federal Forest Receipts, and our school and local population continues to decline (more bills but fewer left to pay them).

We got our selves into this situation largely by electing some who were more concerned about pushing their special interest, and less concerned with the overall well being of the community.

I must admit it is hard to judge the motives of some who would like to represent us, and determine which candidates would be the most responsible with our community finances.

Keep in mind that after our upcoming local election, numerous projects are expected to be brought forward with the potential to further increase our debt and worsen our financial situation. Those projects include:

Oceans Alaska Aquarium
Maintenance facility
Two additional recreational projects
Cruise ship passenger and community Center
Renovation of the Centennial Hall (if library bonds are approved)
etc, etc

We need to elect leaders who will prioritize projects feasible in our current economic condition, scrutinize those projects that are approved to assure that they are on budget, and to closely manage the yearly budget to prevent tax increases.

To the "I don't mind if my taxes are raised crowd", I would simply ask how much higher do you want them to go? We are already one of the highest taxed communities in Southeast Alaska. Federal and State taxes are likely to increase soon as well. Can't we find a balance, and save some ability to prepare for the challenges yet to come?

What we can do is vote, and I would ask that those concerned with our community finances support the following candidates for local government:

Borough Assembly:

Catherine Brown
Alan Bailey

City Assembly:

Sam Bergeron

Remember the three "B's" Brown, Baily and Bergeron to get our local government back on track.

Thank you.

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK


Received September 21, 2010 - Published September 21, 2010



Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

SitNews ©2010
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska