SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


At what point do we hold the line on new taxes?
By Rodney Dial


November 26, 2008
Wednesday AM

In three locations in my previous letter 12 was listed when it should have read 1/2 % (one-half percent) this is due to a formatting error when my MS Word document is converted into a SitNews letter. The proposed tax increase to build the new pool will take the sales tax rate to 6.25 to 6.50 %.

Also, a few other important facts about the pool and library.

Library - when you read about the different costs ranging from 13.3 million to 25 million, the latter figure includes a parking garage. Where the library is proposed to be built is on a parking lot downtown which will displace nearly 60 parking spaces. This means that our downtown will face the parking nightmare that Juneau has unless we build a parking garage.

Library supporters know this and realize that a facility costing 25 million will require a vote of the public. Without the parking garage attached to the project they may be able to get the structure built without a vote of the people, by using city reserves and borough funding. Once the new library is built the public will be arm twisted into building a parking garage (which will require bonds and a vote), or will suffer with unbearable parking downtown. City reserves should be maintained for emergencies like the bridge and road repairs going on around town now, not to build projects without voter approval.

The borough moving out of the Reid building will not solve the parking problem created by building a new library, as it is the intent of local government to sell the building. Whoever buys the building will utilize parking vacated by borough employees who have moved to the White Cliff building.

A new much larger Library could be housed at the old bowling alley, or in the mall for a fraction of the cost of a new building downtown. This would have the benefit of no maintenance costs, reduced operating costs, does not displace any downtown parking, is more centrally located, could be done immediately and would require NO tax increases.

I also keep hearing this ridiculous argument that building a big library will somehow attract people to our community. I'm sorry but that's plain silly. I have moved numerous times in my life and the size of the community's library never even crossed my mind as a consideration. All the people migrating out of western Alaska into Anchorage are doing so because of the high cost of living, not how large the libraries are.

Pool. Did you know that the proposed larger pool will cost between 20 to 30 thousand or more per month, just to heat?

Think these are minor tax increases? Here is a snapshot of how your sales taxes have increased in recent years (does not include the increase in property taxes):

1992 Increase sales tax to 2% and establish a Borough Sales Tax Recreation Capital Projects Fund

1999 Adoption of a 1% hospital and other public works sales tax

2004 Increase general sales tax by 1/2 (one half) % dedicated to bondable school capital projects and insurance on school buildings and facilities

Finally, as you consider increasing your taxes for new and bigger pool and library, keep in mind that your water rates are set to increase by 15% in the coming months.

At what point do we hold the line on new taxes?

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Local business owner"

Received November 25, 2008 - Published November 26, 2008


Related Viewpoint:

letter The future of Ketchikan By Rodney Dial

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