SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Who cares about small businesses?
By Robert McRoberts


October 24, 2007
Wednesday PM

A broken system. That's what we have. Our government keeps saying how they are for creating jobs, then why can't they see the small guys? Is it we only want big industries to come to town? I see the small mom and pop businesses getting pushed to the side. Is it not the tax base? The big guys bring millions of dollars worth of machinery to town as the average mom and pop business only works with a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of assets invested - making less tax revenue. It seems to me that since we hire out-of-towners to run our government who went to business management school, we can not run our government as a business. We should not keep trying so hard to expand it, that will come naturally if we concentrate on making a nice place to live.

No big business is going to come here. It is too expensive to live in Ketchikan. We need to get the cost of living down. There are a lot of small businesses here trying to keep ahead but we are pushing them out of business. It costs too much to operate here.

Look at downtown, a few people own most of it and the values are all up. Even though a lot of the buildings are rotting and molding away and proudly should be condemned. But their value is higher than some of the buildings in Newtown that are in better shape. They're both rotting away and sitting on hundred year old pilings. The government allows those building to be so valuable for taxes. But you hear the word location. Watch how fast they will bring up the value of Newtown property as the new docks start unloading tourist there. Soon the local artist will want to sell their stuff. We'll not be able to rent space there. They will not be able to live here all winter making their stuff. That is already the case. and that's why there are not more doing it. I have had that dream but it just doesn't add up -- work all winter and hang out all summer selling your goodies. What a nice dream.

This is where the government messes with this plan too. If you are a local artist you probably own a home -- let's say $350,000 average Ketchikan good home with taxes at about $3200.00 a year. for your home. Plus your mortgage -- let's say $2,000 x 12 = $24,000 just too live comfortably on the rock. Then you have to rent a space -- surely $1500 for a small spot = $18,000 plus your business licenses and insurance. With wear and tear on the shop and supplies, surely you would spend $24,000 for rent. So now I am at let's say $55,0000 because I missed something. We need to eat -- surely about $5,000. Heating oil and gas I could only guess. Anyway my point is, it costs a lot to live comfortably and be a local art shop. And why would you go into business and live poorly? Life is too short and artists like to do what they like. To attract businesses of this kind you must produce a lower cost of living. On top of that like any other business there's the tax man looking at all your paint brushes, chisels, needles and what ever tools you use to create your art because your selling it.

Just to get back to the tax man and his personal property tax, this is surely a deterrent to do business in this borough. I think that this is the worst tax and most unfair tax ever created. If I were to ever be the boss, I would eliminate that tax -- or get run off for trying. The IRS gives you a break for buying new equipment but the KGB taxes you for bringing new tools to town. It's kind of like they just like old junk around town. To be taxed on your investment in your business is all wrong and in no way fair. What do I get from that tax?

That brings me to other problems we have all these rules on property. We are an island of rock. Property would be more affordable if the rock on it could be sold to make developing it cheaper. The whole knob that is the Third Avenue bypass could be shot down to road grade rock, sold and property owners would be paid for it. Instead it is too expensive to develop except for a few homes. Let the trees fall on the road -- who was the fool that put the light poles on that side of the street anyway? And when was the last time a rock quarry was zoned in this town?

Well it's a beautiful morning in paradise and now I need to get things done so have a nice day. After all the negative things I've said about government I would like to say the recreation center is one good thing we have going for us -- especially on windy, rainy days.

Robert McRoberts
Ketchikan, AK

Received October 21, 2007 - Published October 24, 2007



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Ketchikan, Alaska