Vote Dunleavy for Governor; Shaw for House;
|Rodney Dial is expressing his personal opinions and is not speaking on behalf of the Ketchikan Borough Assembly.|
In addition to the many actions I have taken to contain local government growth, I have also worked on expanding economic development and coordination with the Federal Government. My past letters have detailed those efforts, to include the boroughs first ever, coordination with the Whitehouse on issues important to us. I just received an invitation to return to the Whitehouse this October for additional meetings.
The ongoing teacher contract issue has not reached the Borough Assembly for action yet, however I would ask that everyone have faith that this will be resolved, just as every other employee contract in borough history has been. The delay is unfortunate; however the amount of money involved is significant and warrants deliberation to reach a compromise we can all live with. My goal is to find a way to fund the final contract without a property or sales tax increase and I am working on a plan to make that happen.
Regarding the upcoming State and local election and how it will affect us and our cost of living; here is my opinion for your consideration.
To start with, I am not a fan of Governor Walker. He is a nice guy; however his practice as Governor has been to “make those Alaskans paying taxes now, pay more… so that Alaskans paying no taxes can continue to pay nothing”.
As your Assembly person, I have witnessed several occasions in which Gov. Walker has passed on new taxes/costs to our community while completely isolating from taxes the unincorporated areas of the state; some of which are far richer than Ketchikan. I wrote a letter years ago warning the community that Gov. Walker was making Ketchikan a “Donor City” along with other incorporated communities. He is essentially, taxing us more in order to continue to provide free services and tax free status to the ½ of the State that is unincorporated. A few examples of what Gov. Walker and his administration have done:
1. Increased the State taxes on the boats in our harbors, while continuing a ZERO tax rate on boats in harbors in unincorporated areas. Ketchikan cost estimated at $64,878.00 in FY19.
2. Charged the community a tax for the Shipyard (which is owned by the State /AIDA). This cost us about $80,000.00 per year until we were able to get legislation to fix this. Gov. Walker did this to us while at the same time charging ZERO tax for State/AIDA properties/improvements in unincorporated areas.
3. Governor’s administration rejection of in-kind contributions the Borough provides to the school district which costs us approximately $214,890 (FY17/ increases every year) in lost State funding for our schools.
4. Governor approved legislation that ended school bond debt reimbursement for Ketchikan, making us 100% responsible for the cost of school capital projects, while unincorporated Alaska has 100% of school capital projects paid by the State.
5. Closed State facilities in Ketchikan while at the same time opened up new State facilities in unincorporated areas. Specifically our Regional Youth Detention Facility.
6. Used State DEC to go after Ketchikan homeowners on “Common Collector Outfalls”. This one was quite interesting. Because of our island geology, septic systems are unsuitable for most locations. As a result, State DEC years ago directed many of our citizens to use outfall systems, which many did that were approved by State DEC at the time.
Walker's administration decided to go after only those citizens who were on common collector outfalls (more than one home per outfall), while not making any change for homes on a single outfall. The reason for this was unclear; however the rumor I heard was this was an effort to protect rural/unincorporated communities while forcing urban/incorporated communities like Ketchikan to invest in expensive wastewater systems. It’s important to note that Ketchikan outfalls are continuously tested, the borough has a mandatory sludge pumping program, and in many cases outfall systems are cleaner than municipal wastewater systems. The status of this is still in limbo, but could cost citizens thousands in new expenses in the future.
In 2006, I led an effort to stop a Consolidation attempt in Ketchikan. Consolidation would have combined the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough into a single municipality. At the time, I was a Deputy Commander with the Troopers and had witnessed the effects of consolidation in other Alaskan communities and knew that if approved, the State would “Service-Shift” State costs to the local community. There are many examples of this happening in Alaska history.
At the time I warned that this service shifting would eventually result in the loss of Ketchikan Troopers and the State forcing the expansion of the Ketchikan Police Department as a result. Local government would need to hire dozens of new employees (officers and support), buy new equipment, vehicles, training, building(s), expansion of communication systems, etc. Back then the cost was millions… would be even more now.
As you probably witnessed, during Gov. Walker’s term multiple Trooper Posts were closed throughout the state. Of the posts closed, they were either in a municipality where the State could force local citizens to assume the cost, or they were in areas accessible by road to another Trooper Post. Now before someone tells me he did this to save money, I would remind you that while he was closing Trooper Posts in urban Alaska, he was opening and expanding them in rural Alaska.
My point is that had we consolidated in 2006, Gov. Walker would have likely closed or diminished our Trooper Post resulting in millions in new local taxes for local public safety. We have the same right for state law enforcement as any other community. Consolidation would have also resulted in other service shifting for services such as road maintenance, etc.
Gov. Walker has failed to unite us as a State to address our shared deficit and funding problems. No matter how you look at it, ½ the State can’t pay all the bills. There are only about 320 thousand jobs in Alaska, we have no billionaires to tax and less than 1 thousand households with incomes over a million.
Under Walker's watch, ½ of the land mass of Alaska continues to be tax free (no property tax) which makes us unique in the country. The Ketchikan Borough, City of Ketchikan, Saxman and even the School board have unanimously, on multiple occasions, sent resolution after resolution to Walker and Ortiz asking them to end the unfair “Required Local Contribution Tax” (RLC) that is imposed on Ketchikan and other incorporated areas that is not imposed on the ½ of the state that is unincorporated.
Liberals and Conservatives on our island have come together to oppose this discriminatory tax that amounts to a “Success Tax” that gets worse every year and is one of the main reasons it is so expensive to live here. For FY19 this tax will cost us $4,689,240.00 in STATE property taxes. Friends, we only have 6254 households, so trust me, this is a significant amount of money for our island.
To put this in perspective, if Ketchikan were simply treated in the same manner as every island around us, and the ½ of the State that is tax free… we could run the Borough on sales taxes alone and would have no need for a property tax.
Politicians like Walker and Ortiz, who have both been pushing for an income tax, like to justify it based upon their claims that Alaskans pay no statewide tax. The key word of course is “statewide”. Some states pay an income tax, some pay a state sales tax, in Alaska ½ of us pay a State RLC tax; same effect on your wallet, just a different name.
Personally, I could accept a RLC tax if all Alaskans paid it, however because half of the state is exempt, Ketchikan not only pays more, it also allows many well off people and businesses across the state to get tax free services at our expense.
If you read my past letters I have listed many examples of multi-million dollar businesses, such as mines, lodges, etc. that pay no property taxes and get a free ride. If Walker had the courage to address this think how much more of your PFD you could have kept. He has taken nearly $4,000 worth of PFDs from every citizen in order to continue providing services for free and property tax free status for ½ of the state.
A vote for Walker or Ortiz is a vote to grow government, and to turn the PFD into a welfare program. Eventually if you work for a living your State taxes will exceed your PFD meaning that it will become something only benefiting the unemployed. Last year Walker and Ortiz got what they wanted when SB 26 was signed into law that will siphon billions from the PF annually. They like to claim that it protects the PFD, but that is simply impossible unless state spending growth is constrained.
Last year alone the State budget increased by over $400 million. As in years past, the legislature under funded the budget which will require a supplemental budget early next year. Last year the supplemental budget needed for the prior year was $114.6 million. Assuming a similar supplemental need a few months from now, Walker and Ortiz just increased the budget in one year by over ½ a billion, or roughly 25% of what they will acquire from SB26. Think about that… just the INCREASE to the budget in ONE YEAR, and if the trend continues just the budget increases over the next 4-5 years could consume the available earnings from SB26. That of course is why both are also pushing for an income tax.
I don’t like to call anyone a liar, however, I will include a segment of an interview with Candidate Walker, done by the Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage Paper) published on October 11, 2014, prior to his election and let you form your own opinion.
7. The state's savings is being depleted. How low should the savings go before you begin to seriously discuss implementing a widespread tax, such as a sales or income tax, or reducing Permanent Fund Dividend checks to help pay for services?
“I have no intention to implement a statewide tax or paying for state government by reducing Permanent Fund dividend checks. If we properly develop our natural resources and put in place a sustainable budget that should not be necessary.”
Those are his exact words friends. He has spent his entire time in office pushing a statewide income tax AND has reduced everyone’s PFDs by nearly $4000.00 during his time in office. The amazing thing is some of you still believe he is protecting your dividend. Read the article for yourself: https://www.adn.com/politics/article/bill-walker-answers-questions-about-issues-2014-election-alaska-governor/2014/10/12/
We need a State government we can afford. Currently we spend more than double the national average on State Government and nearly 7 times the average on administration. Walker and Ortiz both said they would reduce unnecessary spending… they didn’t. Walker has no excuse as he has line-item veto authority to reduce the budget to whatever level he wants.
How about these expenses….The State still funds a personal legislative Chief and staff $137,000.00 and Ortiz’s caucus didn’t allow a SINGLE cut to state government. Read it for yourself, here is the link http://mustreadalaska.com/not-single-cut/
Remember when Walker spent $50,000.00 on a consultant on how to greet President Obama (true) and $2000.00 on a photographer for his visit? This is more than many citizens make in a YEAR. Read for yourself:
How about all the friends and consultants Walker hired to work on the gas line? which BTW was going nowhere until President Trump took Walker to China. I wonder why Walker didn’t hire a consultant to tell him how to greet President Trump… hmm?
How about Walker's “Welfare for Life” program that allows citizens in nearly ½ of Alaskan communities (currently around 150 areas) to bypass the Federal law that limits welfare to five years in a person’s life. Under Walker administration people in these communities can collect welfare in Alaska for LIFE! In one of my previous letters I wrote about a 17 member family I dealt with that was kicked off of welfare in Texas due to time limits that relocated to a tax-free area of Alaska and collected hundreds of thousands in state expenses/benefits annually. Walker also opposes work requirements for welfare programs. Walker essentially put a flashing neon sign on the state saying “Welfare for life with no limits” This has effectively become Alaska’s version of the socialist “universal basic income plan” and it is contributing to our budget problems.
Walker has added over 40,000 citizens to entitlement programs during his term, and over 200,000 Alaskans now receive entitlements from the State. People, we are only a population of 739,000. We have become a major welfare state under Walker.
I could go on all day and didn’t intend this letter to be a tirade against Gov. Walker. However I am warning you that if he is reelected our community and state is in danger of becoming far more expensive. If reelected he will be unable to run again due to term limits and will have no need to moderate his actions.
As far as former Senator Begich being in the race it is simply a game the democrat party in Alaska is playing. They realize Alaska is a Red State (registered republicans outnumber democrats 2 to 1) and they will simply wait until closer to the election before the least popular candidate drops out (just like how Abbott dropped out of our local house race a few days ago). Begich nearly bankrupted Anchorage as Mayor, voted for Obamacare as an Alaska Senator, and was so far left, the voters of Alaska replaced him with Sullivan a few years ago.
Rep. Ortiz has refused to address local governments repeated requests to address the discriminatory RLC tax, continues to push to tax the income of our citizens, voted to take ½ of your PFD and won’t even vote to cut his personal Chief.
If having an affordable community/state to live in is important to you, I would suggest you vote for:
Dunleavy for Governor
Shaw for House
Bockhorst for Borough Assembly.
The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.
Received September 11, 2018 - Published September 12, 2018
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