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Sales tax, term limits on tap

Assembly has big items on agenda

Posted: July 4, 2011 - 1:11pm  |  Updated: July 7, 2011 - 10:16am

The Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly will consider and hear public feedback Tuesday on two proposed ordinances concerning increasing the sales tax and extending term limits.

The first, Ordinance 2011-23 carried by assembly members Bill Smith and Linda Murphy, would ask voters in October’s borough-wide election to consider increasing the borough’s sales tax by one-tenth of a percent, or from the current 3 percent to 3.1 percent.

The increase, a penny on a $10 sale, would raise an estimated $900,000 per year and would be allocated to fund all things related to economic development.

Those items could include non-departmental agencies like the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, Small Business Development Center, and the Central Area Rural Transit System.

In June, borough mayor David Carey and the assembly wrestled over whether or not to continue funding non-departmentals. Assembly president Gary Knopp said the issue isn’t one unfamiliar to the assembly.

“It has been a source of contention for years and years that we are using taxpayer money to fund certain activities in the borough,” he said.

Assembly members discussed at length a way to provide a designated revenue source for the non-departmentals instead of pulling from the borough’s general fund.

“I never see anything wrong with asking the voters what they think … since they are paying the bill at the end of the day,” Knopp said. “I think this is a valid question.”

Knopp added whether voters approve the measure or not will help the assembly make decisions on non-departmental funding in the future.

Knopp said the measure would have a vote of approval from him.

“If the voters aren’t willing to support it when they are given an opportunity, then maybe we shouldn’t be funding them whatsoever,” Knopp said. “Maybe the voters are telling us, ‘No, we don’t support taxing ourselves to fund that.’ For me, it would sure answer the question for me regarding future decisions.”

Assembly vice president Charlie Pierce agreed, adding he would also support the ordinance.

“I am certainly in support of the non-departmental agencies seeking other methodologies of deriving funds and I think this is a perfect way to find out whether the taxpayers support taxpayer money being used to fund non-departmentals,” he said.

Pierce said he would also lend his support to Ordinance 2011-24, which seeks to add another term to the current term limits on assembly members and redefine what constitutes a term. The ordinance will also be up for public hearing Tuesday.

If the ordinance is approved by the assembly and voters, it would limit assembly members to serving three full terms, an increase from the current two terms, and also redefine a term to be a full three years.
Currently, assembly members are limited to two terms, with the definition of a term being any or all of a three-year term.

“I think it is a good intelligent move to make,” Pierce said. “Being on the borough assembly, well there are a lot of complex issues there and I don’t think they are average, everyday issues that people can grasp right away — they need some time to learn the system and understand the process. If you have never served in government, you are going to be way behind the curve for the next two years.”

Pierce thinks the public would also be better served if individuals were allowed to serve more time, if voters approve. But, he said he still supports the work of the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers, which helped guide the current term limits into existence in 2007.

“They went through a lot of work to get where they are at today, but nevertheless, I think there was some shortsightedness in their efforts and that learning curve is just tough to overcome,” he said.

Knopp, who is sponsoring the ordinance, said the amount of feedback he has heard on the idea has been limited.

“I have not heard a word from anybody on that ordinance,” he said. “I’ve had no phone calls, no emails, absolutely nothing.”

However, Knopp said he expects to hear some voices of opposition Tuesday.

Pierce said the ordinance isn’t about giving more power to assembly members.

“I don’t think it is about power and I don’t think I have ever considered that notion that I’m there to achieve some level of power,” he said. “I am there to serve and I am there to make good decisions and do my very best.”

The initiators of the 2007 term limit ballot measure, Pierce said, thought term limits would eventually spur more people to get involved in the political process.

“I think if you would consider how many people have run unopposed since term limits have been enacted, you would find that the opposite is true,” he said.

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jessnjeff
11
Points
jessnjeff 07/05/11 - 07:47 am
0
0
Read my lips...

The borough should tax only those things which it is financially responsible for. If there's extra to be spent we shold vote on how to spend that extra money. Thus, non-departmental funding should only occur if there is extra money left over and not being used by the borough for those things for which the borough IS responsible. If we want to spend money on 'extras' we shoud reprioritize something else out of the budget so that the 'extra' is seen as necessary in lieu of something else.

With the economy were it is, I can't see justifying another tax. Even if our economy were more stable, I can't see justifying another tax. Our income in taxed by the Feds, our vehicles are taxed by the state, our property is taxed by the borough, our purchases are taxed by both the city and the borough. If I earn a dollar it is taxed, and if I spend a dollar it is taxed again. The only thing not taxed is tax dollars.

This piddly .01% isn't so small when you look at it closely. It would cost my middle income family about $325/year. That's about the cost of school supplies, four tanks of gas in our vehicles, a fee for two kids to attend a Challenger Learning Center camp, six trips to the movies over a year, or a month of elec. and gas utilities combined. Every dollar I spend on taxes is anothe dollar I won't spent on our local businesses. This 'purchase fee' won't increase my home income, so I'm wondering what the borough assembly would prefer I cut out of our lives to accomodate it.

Our federal government should be funding our roads, national security, and schools. They shouldn't be funding hospitals, museums, or arts. I'm willing to pay for the first, not the latter. It is this type of rub which comes into play when the government begins to think it would like to take earned income and spend it on housing, health insurance, or anything else that is not within the scope of the responsibility of the government. The tax of the federal government should be aimed at common defense and general welfare.

Likewise, our local borough should be funded to pay for those things for which it is responsible. I don't mind paying for our land use planning, tax collection, property assessment, recording of public documents, road maintenance, etc. The borough should fund those things which fall under the borough entity and borough responsiblity, but has no business paying for those things which it is not responsible for at my expense.

I would like to see those people who utilize non-departmental agencies pay for those without requiring the rest of us to do so as well. If we want to fund the SBDC for example, then pull back the funding on roads or the landfill to find the balance.

How about we add a 'pick, click, give' option to the PFD's for those who would like to donate money to Mrs. Murphy/Mr. Smith's pet project fund? If not, we the taxpayers are apt to feel like we have been pecked to death by chickens at the end of the day.

I'm tired of being responsible financially for those things which are not my financial responsibility. Enough is enough.

EWZuber
16
Points
EWZuber 07/05/11 - 10:48 am
0
0
economic development

Since I do not support economic expansion I can not support a tax that gives money away to increase the denaturing of the peninsula as economic expansion and nature have always been mutually exclusive. Economic expansion always displaces nature.
I would much rather have a sustainable economy rather than trying to constantly expand it which is unsustainable and impacts the natural quality of life.
It used to be that one didn't have to spend the day trying to find a place to fish off the bank but instead spent the day fishing.
We didn't have red plastic fencing preventing our access to the river because the impact by locals was not significant.
We didn't need 5 lane highways just to deal with the influx of traffic brought here by money spent on the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council.
Now expansionists want to start damming up our salmon rivers to provide more electricity to feed expansion. These business interests know no bounds. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred.
I realize this is a very unpopular position as humans have consistently traded their natural paradise for money. Does anyone think about why people around the world will save up for decades to make a trip to Alaska?
Economic expansion is destroying the reason they come. The beast is consuming itself.

keeneye
10
Points
keeneye 07/05/11 - 03:03 pm
0
0
@EWZuber

I agree totally with your post.

I can remember the day when it was a "sight" to see a boat on the Kenai river. Now you can literally walk across the river on them. I find it funny you do not hear more complaints about the noise on the river-just the racetrack.

Yes sir, those halcyon days are past. Now we have the very people deciding on these economic ventures telling us that it is "so complex" that they need longer terms.
How complex is it not to spend more than you take in?

The government (beast)(and not just locally) is getting too big! They want these economic developments because it feeds them. We end up giving more and more of our hard earned dollar to pay for needless things(it keeps them in office). Pretty soon, it will in fact consume itself. Maybe that is not such a bad thing. Like JessnJeff said, "Enough is enough."

witchwitch
51
Points
witchwitch 07/06/11 - 05:23 am
0
0
The Borough heard, but unswayed by public testimony...

The Borough "heard" but the fact that they had already decided was pretty clear, as every person giving public testimony was AGAINST the sales tax increase, except for a single person employed by the marketing group set to receive the windfall profits from the sales tax increase.

If nothing else, the Borough is consistent with their position to tax and spend. Makes me wonder just how much of the windfall "profits" will cycle back into their re-election chests. However, I believe it's unlikely that the voters will approve their latest scheme for "economic development".

FYI - By law, since sales taxes have been increased to 3% (already approved by the voters in the 1960's), any further increase MUST be approved by the voters, so don't think that they put it to the vote because they wanted to... Title 29 of state law REQUIRES approval by local voters.

They also debated INCREASING term limits, as it would be wasteful to give all that money away and not be able to use the contributions from the grateful recipients, to be re-elected... again and again and again.

They postponed that decision, as it appears that they read the writing on the wall and must have assumed that the people would vote their term extender ordinance down, as further increases in term limits must by law be approved by the voters. Term limits has been voted for four times already, while the likelihood of passage for three terms plus any partial terms was likely to face an overwhelming defeat in any local election.

akal
252
Points
akal 07/07/11 - 10:41 am
0
0
more Boro taxes

I'll keep this short, don't feed the beast that ride's the tax payers back. I also stand behind Rick on economic expansion.

soldotna
50
Points
soldotna 07/09/11 - 02:52 pm
0
0
Term limits

I think if they want to change the term limits that's great it shows that the people in the assembly really want to stay there and help everyone.

However by saying that and most assembly members agree they need longer terms to help us out on complicated matters. I would also like to add that after the second term that any member has that they are no longer able to receive any kind of insurance or retirement provided for being an assembly member.

I honestly don't think they will have a problem doing that because hey they are doing it "for you".

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