White Cliff YES!
By Forrest Gibson
October 02, 2006
An important thing to remember is that the vote this Tuesday
is not about reforming Ketchikan's tax code. It's about the choice
this community gets to take care of its own needs by providing
funding for the White Cliff Center. This community project has
been thoroughly-researched and has lots of community support
(almost 400 names on that list of endorsements, to start with).
In my opinion, it will be a place for people of all ages to participate
in healthy community activities year-round.
Wow! An expensive, full-page ad by the Downtown Business Association
(DBA), now that got my attention! After reading the ad though,
I'm really curious. Who is in the Downtown Business Association,
and which of the downtown businesses do they represent? The group
just popped up to formally take a public stand on tax issues,
and so far, all of the downtown businesses I've talked to were
under the impression that the organization has been inactive
or defunct for the past several years. Trying to find out more
about this group, I searched the Alaska Public Offices Commission
website to learn when it registered, or who their contributors
are. Oddly, this search resulted in no records, which is noteworthy.
If you or your business is active in the Downtown Business Association
(DBA), it'd be great to hear from you, to find out more about
who the group represents, what its goals are, and how it operates.
Are there dues and members, and what businesses are involved?
Are there open meetings and officers, and who signs the checks?
How are decisions made? Of notable importance, who is responsible
to ensure that the group is acting in accordance with state campaign
disclosure laws? That would all be useful information, to also
help the community evaluate the validity of the claims that have
been put forward, and to get a sense of how many people and businesses
the DBA actually represents.
Speaking as an individual taxpayer of both sales and property
tax, and as a year-round resident, I appreciated the sales tax
examples presented by the DBA. It got me wondering though, so
lets look at the math supporting the somewhat misleading claim
that Ketchikan is the "most expensive place to shop in Southeast
Alaska," implying that the small increase proposed would
actually send business elsewhere. To analyze this claim, let's
actually compare apples to apples -- what someone would actually
pay in sales tax in different cruise destinations, using, say,
a $7500 necklace as an example:
In Skagway, the tax paid would
be $300 (4% sales tax, no cap.)
In Juneau, the tax paid would be $375 (5% sales tax, $7500 cap.)
In Ketchikan, the tax would be $60 (6% sales tax, $1000 cap.)
With the proposed increase, it would be $65.
Hey, let's do our shopping
Of course, it's true that on a $100 purchase, the comparison
is $4, $5, and $6, but without also analyzing the local property
tax rates, we don't know what the average taxpayer in those communities
pays. Fortunately the state of Alaska helps shed some light on
that. From: www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/osa/pub/05Taxable.pdf, by
my reckoning, we see a clearer picture of the cost of property
taxes from 2005 in the same communities:
Skagway: $1,538 property tax per capita
Juneau: $1,059 property tax per capita
Ketchikan: $873 property tax per capita
Adding in the combined property and sales taxes we get:
Skagway: $6,403 combined sales+property tax per capita
Juneau: $2,127 combined sales+property tax per capita
Ketchikan: $2,069 combined sales+property tax per capita
Yeow! It's not only a great community here in Ketchikan, but
there are some other real benefits as well!
So, should Ketchikan raise the sales-tax cap? An interesting
policy discussion. The explanation often offered for a cap on
sales tax is that local merchants of larger ticket items - appliances,
boats, cars - are better able to compete with Seattle merchants
with the cap in place. Should the sales tax be seasonal? That's
another interesting and valid discussion. Some businesses assert
that it would be a headache to administer, others think it's
a great idea.
With the sudden flurry of activity, is the DBA actually advocating
raising the cap, implementing a seasonal sales tax, or offering
other solutions? If so, who do they represent and let's get them
involved and working TOGETHER with other interested community
members and elected officials to figure out what's the tax structure
that best balances a range of community interests!
Again, I'd like to point out that the vote on Tuesday is not
about reforming Ketchikan's tax code. It's about the extraordinary
opportunity before Ketchikan to make our community a better place
to live and work year-round. I'll be voting yes on propositions
1 and 2.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
Received October 02, 2006 -
Published October 02, 2006
About: "Local resident, property owner, musician and technology
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Send A Letter -------Read
E-mail the Editor at
Stories In The News