SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Don't push the taxpayers
By Rodney Dial


December 29, 2006

A few thoughts on the Consolidation Election and local Government.

You may remember that in the months leading up to the consolidation election the Save Ketchikan Public Action Group was making the repeated claims that:

The proposed tax increases were only due to consolidation, and
That our current two-government system offers protections to the taxpayer.

If you have been following the news lately we have been proven correct on both counts. The City has recently announced that the mill rate for next year will remain the same. As you may remember, per the consolidation document Areawide taxes (City included) were projected to increase by two mills under consolidation.

KDN has also been reporting on how the City and Borough have been trying to alter the sales tax rules, exemptions, etc. As you may have noticed this back and forth action between the two governments has slowed the pace of change regarding increased taxation and resulted in the City/Borough tabling their attempts to increase the maximum about of sale subject to tax.

A few other positive points of light .

The cruise ship taxation initiative will take effect in January. Although this is sure to be challenged in court, the Borough stands to receive a significant amount of new, additional revenue in 2007. Although there are restrictions on the use of this revenue, the Borough should be able to make the case to use a portion of this money to cover the nearly 1 million dollar annual subsidy for local bus service. It may even be possible to offset other expenses such as garbage, airport ferry, etc. It is up to our elected officials to find creative ways to make this happen.

I would also like to point out to the local government officials that there is nothing stopping you from consolidating the local government services that you feel are redundant. As our group mentioned many times leading up to the consolidation vote, you do not need to consolidate governments in order to consolidate local government services. Here is your chance to prove to the public that you were not attempting to mislead them when you pushed consolidation as a means of saving money. Get together with each other, form a study group, look for areas to streamline, consider contracting with each other to provide services and recommend Memorandums of Agreement to share costs. If there was a shred of truth to what you were saying, make it happen.

A few things that should happen

The will of the people needs to be respected, once and for all. Consolidation has been voted upon, time and time again. If voting means anything to you, then show some respect for the results. Stop hiding behind the excuse that this latest attempt at consolidation was somehow because of the voters. The last attempt was started by the Chamber of Commerce, who made promises that in the end never materialized. Will a Borough or City Official of integrity please step up and propose an indefinite moratorium on bringing this up again, please!

The City and Borough need to work on eliminating wasteful spending. Recent examples include 100k employee wage study (City), Yearly 1 million subsidy for bus service (Borough), and yearly funding of non-profits (both).

Use budget cuts and the new revenue obtained from the Cruise Ship Tax Initiative to eliminate sales tax on food and rent.

Do not retaliate against the taxpayer for voting down consolidation, by raising taxes / fees. If you push us, we will push back with a citizen initiative to cap all taxes. We have obtained a copy of the tax cap initiative from the Mat-Su Taxpayers association, and are prepared to draw a line in the sand.

It's time for you to start caring more about those who pay taxes, and a little less about those who live off them. As long as you continue to fund fuel gulping buses driving around town with virtually no one on them, you will never be able to cry We have cut the budget to the bone . You would do far more public good by eliminating sales tax on food, than you will ever do funding public transportation. The public has spoken on Whitecliff and Consolidation, now it's time for government to listen.

Rodney Dial
Ketchikan, AK

Received December 19, 2006 - Published December 29, 2006

About: "Someone who is glad the consolidation vote is behind us."





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Ketchikan, Alaska