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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

The answer is NO!
By Rodney Dial


November 28, 2012
Wednesday PM

In the news on November 26th, our Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon announced yet another large tax increase for the city. Apparently the property tax increase last year wasn't enough, or the shell game the City Council did when they made KPU the funding source for the non-profits, transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures to our utility.

So this same group of tax and spenders (City Council) that has spent millions over the last several years on non-essential programs/projects, e.g. KTN Arts, First City Players, various art projects, break-room renovations, parties, catering, useless studies, etc, is now crying they don't have enough money and must SUBSTANTALLY raise your taxes AGAIN.

So how much are your taxes going up? Well, property taxes will be increasing by 16%, moorage rates 7%, and water rates by another 5%... well that is if King Karl gets his way. Apparently the Mayor is just a figurehead in Ketchikan and the town is run by the City Manager.

Keep in mind that this does not include the natural, yearly tax increase due to increased property valuations that will probably add on another 10% increase on later this year. All told the owner of an average house in the city will experience a total tax increase (water/property) over these last two years of between $500-1000 dollars a year (includes business taxes passed on to the consumer). Total combined property taxes for city residents and business owners are now the highest in SE Alaska and more than DOUBLE that of other SE communities such as Sitka.

The average tax liability per household in Ketchikan will now exceed $12,500/yr or $1041 per month. This information comes from the communities legislative funding request FY11 report which back then stated that the burden was $11,826 per household. Two years of increases (we are now in FY13) are pricing this community out of existence. Many would not think they are taxed at anywhere near that amount, but fail to realize that the taxes imposed on the businesses in the community, and taxes passed on to renters are hidden and not easily seen. Consider how these tax increases will raise the bottom line of places like Safeway and then realize those costs will be passed on to you.

I always marvel at how some people can advocate for tax increases when they are not paying taxes due to senior citizen sales and property tax exemptions. I think it is about time the citizens of the city introduce an initiative to prohibit City Assembly members and the City Manager from claiming these tax exemptions. Maybe if they had skin in the game they wouldn' t be so quick to raise taxes every year.

To all the "I don"t mind paying more taxes people" I would simply remind you that you will soon get your wish. Federal taxes are likely to go up for everyone (est. at $3500 per household), deductions eliminated, fees increased, health care costs increased, food becoming more expensive, etc, and now courtesy of your local government, local tax increases as well. When you're eating beans and cat food in your retirement years because you could never pay off your bills or save for old age remember this letter.

Truth is we have a bunch of City leaders who simply can't say no to anyone, and act as if services are cut to the bone.

A few thoughts on spending...

Anyone ever take a trip to Vegas…Hawaii…New York, or any other large tourist trap and wonder how they manage with crosswalk signs (with massively more people), but we (Ketchikan) somehow need dozens of crossing guards each summer? Do you have any idea how much that costs on a yearly basis? Juneau and Sitka do not have anywhere near the number of “Crossing Guards” that we do. That is certainly not “cut to the bone” and a great area for savings.

Or how about the hundreds of thousands the City has spent on wage surveys… pedestrian way finding studies….the 1.2 million WASTED on a set of library plans NEVER used. Think we need new public buildings nearly large enough to park a space shuttle in? How about all the property removed from the tax roles for government and non-profit use in the last few years?

Do you realize that the City Government is increasing spending to buy iPads for city employees? Increasing spending on public works to tear down buildings belonging to others?

If that doesn’t convince you that waste is rampant in the City have no fear… in a few short months the City and Borough will host their annual Juneau Legislative Party. For those of you not in the know, this is the yearly event where our local governments send numerous city employees on an all-expense paid trip to Juneau for several days, rent an entire restaurant and throw a party for everyone in Juneau who steps in the door. Free custom catered food and all the alcohol anyone can drink FREE courtesy of the Ketchikan taxpayer. Juneau locals wait all year for this party as an opportunity to eat a gourmet dinner and get drunk on our dime.

It’s time we clean house and stop electing the “bobble head” City Assembly members in the back pocket of special interest. Jack Shay was the worst, thank heaven he is gone, but now is the time to send Olsen, West, Sivertsen and Amylon packing before we price ourselves and children out of this community.

If you are ok with a 16% tax increase… on top of last year's, then at least have the decency to accept that these types of actions are one of the primary reasons we are losing population, our businesses are not competitive and our children are moving away.

This is not acceptable and we need to tell the City…NO

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Ketchikan taxpayer and business owner."

Received November 27, 2012 - Published November 28, 2012


Property tax increase proposed in City's 2013 budget; Water rates increase 5%, wastewater rates increase 10%... - The proposed 2013 City of Ketchikan General Government Operating and Capital Budget has been submitted to the City Mayor and City Council Members and the budget meeting process began this evening. The Ketchikan City Council must adopt a final spending plan or budget no later than the third day before the beginning of the next fiscal year, which is December 29, 2012. At least one public hearing on the proposed budget is required prior to adoption of the final spending plan. - More...
SitNews - November 26, 2012



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