White Cliff -- well-researched,
broadly-supported, and timely
By Sara Lawson
October 02, 2006
I appreciate that Mr. Bergeron took the time to clarify his support
for the efforts to renovate White Cliff, and for the community
organizations involved, even though he has objections to the
proposed funding method because of what he sees as long-standing
shortcomings in Ketchikan's tax code.
It would be helpful to understand what solutions Mr. Bergeron
would propose if he were elected to the City Council seat he
is currently seeking, and what progress he was able to make toward
those goals during his previous 3-year term on the Borough Assembly.
If the sales tax on residential rent and food is removed because
it places an unfair burden on one segment of the community, what
does that mean in practical terms? How much revenue is generated
by the sales tax on food, for example, and what would be the
effect of losing that revenue? Does Mr. Bergeron propose cutting
certain services, and which ones? Or raising other taxes, and
by how much? I think we can agree that recognizing the problem
is only part of the solution, and I would like to know more about
what actions Mr. Bergeron would propose to address the problems
he has identified.
All of these are important issues, in moral terms and in practical
terms. The Joint Tax Committee, which is made up of representatives
of Borough and City government, is the group that makes recommendations
about the tax code to those two governments - about sales tax
on food and residential rent, senior exemptions, point-of-sale
definitions, etc. Mr. Bergeron recently suggested that making
changes to the tax code is a challenge under the current system.
>From his recent letter on consolidation: "The first
place that would go is the joint sales tax committee that meets
very infrequently and has never been able to come to a consensus
on anything. Let's face it; these people don't like each other
and they don't work well together."
Although I've heard that the committee is meeting more frequently
and amicably, and has a number of proposed changes in the works,
Mr. Bergeron's assessment highlights the scale of effort necessary
to reexamine the tax code. It may be that a proposal that solves
one problem creates unintended consequences, and even changes
that have merit could take years. In the meantime, the opportunity
to renovate White Cliff, a worthwhile project that meets pressing
community needs, would be lost. What would likely remain is the
community's responsibility to determine the most just and equitable
way to pay for the estimated $3.9-million in demolition costs.
It would be great if our elected leaders could work together
to review our municipal tax system, to ensure that the costs
of the programs, services, and infrastructure that the community
wants and needs - schools, the hospital, roads, the rec center,
port development, and the like - are distributed in a just and
equitable manner. Without more information, I'm not sure exactly
what changes are merited, but I applaud Mr. Bergeron's inclination
to examine those issues, and if he's elected, I wish him every
success in that endeavor a challenging one, for sure.
In the meantime, we have an opportunity to support a well-planned,
community-driven initiative to turn a great historic building
into an asset that will have broad community benefits for residents
of all ages. I'll be enthusiastically voting YES on propositions
1 and 2 on Tuesday.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
Received October 02, 2006 - Published October 02, 2006
About: "Writing as a local resident, and supporter of our
community's investment in a variety of infrastructure projects
that meet a wide range of community needs."
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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