Ketchikan Borough Election
After getting back, full time to the place I love; my home in Ketchikan, I wanted to also get back to local politics and the City Council.
My time that I served on the City Council, The Borough Assembly, the planning commission and KIC tribal council has given me a well-rounded perspective of what our community is as whole and some of the challenges we face going forward. We need strong-experienced and ethical leadership in local government and a council that is pro-business and pro-year-round resident.
As a new grandfather I was reminded how expensive it is to raise kids and to provide the necessities. The City and Borough has sales tax on items like food and residential rent. I have always felt that is incredibly unethical and harmful to those of us who can’t afford food, rent, baby clothes, diapers and heat; to then add a 6.5 percent sales tax on those items. The government does not have a higher and better use for your money than those items and we should not be taxing you on them, but we do and we (City & Borough) have become dependent on those tax revenues. I would propose to exempt some food and baby items in an attempt to wean the government from its’ dependence on a tax that is not in the community’s best interests.
Also, I see needed changes we should make to our tax laws that will bring needed tax relief to our Senior citizens. The senior citizen property tax exemption has not been raised since its inception in 1999. The median valuation of a house that year was $149,800. The exemption enacted by the legislature that year for $150,000. The implied intent was to have folks who retired and owned home here would pay zero or much lower property taxes on their home. We need to raise exemption to a number in the three hundred-thousand-dollar range to account for what a median family home cost today. It would be an incentive for our retired folks to stay here and continue to contribute to our economy and continue to call Ketchikan: Home.
Both governments’, City and Borough will lament their budgets are already facing serious challenges with decreasing state and federal contributions. My argument is as it has always been: they have a greater ability to adjust their budgets to this relatively small loss of income than we have the ability to pay these taxes.
Ports and Harbors:
The City has some big decisions to make on the port expansion and uplands development. These two items have a direct impact on you and your quality of life. The plan is for larger ships and more visitors. We need to ensure that not only does our port have the capacity to handle these ships, but our town does as well. As one of your elected representatives, I will not accept one without the other. Our infrastructure beyond the port is impacted by the influx of visitors and its time we had a common-sense discussion on those impacts and have the industry contribute to those costs. We also need to be a world class cruise and non-cruise destination. Ketchikan has a deep and colorful history, we need to preserve our towns historic character and display this to the 1.3 million tourist we’ll have here next year.
I want our town to surpass Juneau as the go-to destination in Alaska. We can do this with a well thought out uplands development plan that include trails and walking tours and areas away from the downtown that have the splendor of Alaska and alleviate some of the congestion.
Business and Economic Development:
We have existing businesses we need to keep in business. We could help our year-round businesses by eliminating or reducing taxes that online retailers don’t pay, like business property tax and restructuring how we compute sales tax. We need to have a single sale tax cap of 500.00 on non-luxury items and if you go into a store and buy over $500.00 worth of any merchandise, even if they are differing items you pay the cap of $30.00. Our businesses are suffering because they are in a disadvantage to other businesses that pay zero sales tax.
We have un-tapped hydro potential in here in Ketchikan and on Annette island. With abundant power, we have the potential for expanded ship building, mineral extraction and processing, timber processing, manufacturing, plug the cruise ships in when there at our docks, and god-knows-what. Not to mention, never burning another drop of oil for electrical generation when our existing damns run low on water. Imagine what industries would move here with abundant, low-cost power. We have to look at this opportunity as a region not as a City or Borough. We need to look beyond the facilities we own to expand this potential and work closely with our friends and neighbors to make this a reality. Ketchikan is a regional hub for transportation, healthcare, shipbuilding and shopping and we need to continue to exploit our geographical advantage and economic development by expanding our hydro resources.
As your elected council member, I will work hard to make your taxes fairer and do our very best to keep user fees as low as we can. I want economic growth and to do that we need business friendly taxes and incentives to allow business to start and grow. I have an abiding knowledge of the struggles of many working families and Senior Citizens and I want to do the best work we can for all of you. I have lived here all of my life and I will retire here as well.
'I would appreciate your vote this October 2. Please vote Sam Bergeron for City Council. Thank you.
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(APOC Requirement) Paid for by: Sam Bergeron- Candidate for the Ketchikan City Council - 501 A Front Street - Ketchikan, Alaska 99901
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