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CES concerned about Prop 1

Agency says $350K in cuts will cause problems

Posted: September 18, 2013 - 7:18pm  |  Updated: September 19, 2013 - 8:47am
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Signs in the borough building lead voters to the early polling location Wednesday September 18, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska.    Rashah McChesney
Rashah McChesney
Signs in the borough building lead voters to the early polling location Wednesday September 18, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Tonight, during the Central Emergency Services Fire Board meeting in Kasilof, Fire Chief Chris Mokracek will explain plans to close the Kalifornsky Beach fire station —off and on — cut the agencies’ dive rescue team, suspend the preliminary fire investigations team and maybe even get rid of the deputy fire marshal and his vehicle.

In total, Mokracek’s plans, if initiated on Jan. 1, 2014, would equal $350,000 in cuts to balance the amount of money that is estimated to be lost to CES if Proposition 1 wins enough votes during the October General Election.

Proposition 1 seeks to raise the allowable property tax exemption from $20,000 to $50,000 annually. The increase would apply to a single parcel of land registered as owner’s permanent home.

“The Borough will not cut their budget,” said Fred Sturman, one of two primary sponsors behind the citizen initiative. “They will spend the money.”

Sturman said the motivation behind Proposition 1 was to give young people access to the same level of tax breaks that “old folks” get.

“They’ve had no breaks over the years at all,” Sturman said.

Senior citizens in the Borough are eligible for an exemption of up to $300,000 of the assessed value of their primary residence.

The initiative passed through the August primary election and is the result of a petition by Sturman and James Price, two Peninsula residents continually seeking to reduce taxes and government expenditures and are also the lead people behind the Borough’s current assembly term limits, which the assembly seeks to overturn with Proposition 3A and 3B on the October ballot.

During a Wednesday forum for candidates running for Kenai Borough Assembly seats five of six candidates present said they supported the tax break for homeowners.

Overall, Proposition 1 would cut an estimated $1.3 million in tax receipts from the Borough’s general fund; the most coming from CES and the least from Central Peninsula Hospital, which is expected to lose $90 a year. Among others junior taxing districts, roads would lose $285,000 annually; South Kenai Peninsula Hospital would lose $174,000 annually. Other service areas would see losses in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Only the current District 7 Assemblymember Brett Johnson disliked the idea and said that though the tax break would help “poor people,” it would also shift the tax burden to others through a likely mill rate increase by the service areas affected.

“It’s an opportunity for the service areas to raise the mill rate,” Johnson said.

Incumbent District 4 Assemblymember Linda Murphy supports Proposition 1 saying that the Borough could absorb the losses and noted that much of the impact would otherwise fall on only 57 percent of homeowners. Forty-three percent of the property taxes sent out are to owners living outside the borough, she said.

Mokracek said his cuts to CES were chosen specifically to provide the least impact to staffing firefighters for service calls. K-Beach will have less of a negative effect on firefighting and emergency calls than closing the station out at Funny River, which is 17 miles from the nearest back up station. Kasilof, Soldotna and Kenai can help on K-Beach if calls come in while the station is closed, he said. He expects a discussion on the issue during the 6 p.m. meeting tonight.

Also a possible concern to residents in affected areas is the affect the closure could have on the insurance rating that decided, in part, homeowner’s fire insurance premiums. Mokracek said that before the stations wen in at Kasilof and Funny River the ISO rating, which establishes fire insurance rates with a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the worst, for each was a 10.

Since the stations went in the rating moved to a 7 and residents have saved about $1,000 year on premiums, he said.

Other areas of the CES fire district are set at an ISO rating of 6 because they have access to fire hydrants,

“We didn’t worry about that,” Sturman said of the possible increase in fire insurance for some homeowners. If Proposition 1 wins, Sturman said that the Borough would find the money from the general fund to replace the lost $350,000.


Reach Greg Skinner at

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JohnPeterZenger 09/19/13 - 09:25 am
Prop 1 makes no sense.

The people promoting Prop 1 would, as is said, have you cut off your nose to spite your face.

Cut a few negligible dollars from your property tax bills and you will end up paying out much more as a result.

Close a fire station? Fire insurance rates skyrocket.

You just got a new bill that adds up to much more money than any property tax savings you might think you were going to get.

Prop 1 boosters don't want you to think about the repercussions and hidden costs involved in Prop 1.

Don't fall for the misconception that Prop 1 will save you money. It will cost you much more than any assumed savings.

Don't be taken by the deceptive spin, Vote No on Prop 1.

We didn't worry about that, Sturman said.

(Translation? We didn't care about how things might shake out for anyone else, we just want to push our brand of hyper-ideological libertarianism over on everyone one else. Actual real world results don't much enter into our thinking. How could there be any problems, we're driven by blind and simplistic ideological extremism. We don't consider what could go wrong.)

Got any more of your great ideas, Fred? Keep them to yourselves, Fred, people shouldn't have to pay for your misguided ideology.

witchwitch 09/19/13 - 03:51 pm
Prop One Tax relief is not a significant cut to services

Here are some FACTS:

If the Central Peninsula service area NEEDS to replace 100% of its lost revenue, they could raise your mil rate by 0.15 mils.

This is a FACT that was provided by the Mayor's office.

Such a rate hike would create a tax increase of ONLY $22.55 per year for a typical resident homeowner with a home value of $200,000. That leaves quite bit on the table and I hope that you understand this FACT: If you think you need to give up $200 - $300 in tax savings so that they can keep $22.55, then you should apply for a Service Area job where you can campaign to keep the good times rolling for you and your buddies.

Their threats and trumped up solutions do not add up.

Central Emergency SA has budget revenue from property tax revenue alone of over $6.6 million. Cutting $350,000 results in a net cut of less than 5.3% from their property tax revenue. The sky is not falling!

As a taxpayer, I am not falling for their DEMAND to keep the tax rate higher than it needs to be. Their "solution" is designed to scare taxpayers into believing that the cut is substantial and that their funding has been seriously impacted. It has not.

There are solutions that do not require cutting services OR substantially raising anyone's mil rate. Is there anything wrong with taking more funds from the 20 mil tax that ALL oil and gas producing property must pay to the state? We can retain a larger amount from that existing revenue stream without costing local homeowner one single penny more in property tax.

If you want to pay MORE property tax, vote no. If you want local homeowners to pay less tax, then vote yes for Prop One.

Its not a hard call if you understand the facts.

JohnPeterZenger 09/19/13 - 07:56 pm
Vote no, there are hidden costs.

When you understand that cuts to fire service could result in increased fire insurance premiums, you understand that it makes no sense to cut off your nose to spite your face.

Vote no, Prop 1 boosters would have you ignore those facts when they don't support their ideological wishes.

Prop 1 will cost the average taxpayer more money indirectly than the amount of property tax savings.

Do you want to save a dime so you can end up having to then spend a dollar?

Not very smart.

Cutting government doesn't always mean you're going to be paying less, government provided services are a bargain, a bargain for your own bottom line, and you can't attain that service for less.

Vote No on Prop 1, makes no financial sense.

Prop 1 is born out of political posturing that could cost you money to support.

When asked about the hidden costs, Fred Sturman said, "We didn't worry about that."

Nice of Fred not to worry about what it might cost his neighbors while he pursues his own misguided libertarian ideological nonsense.

Thanks Fred, ....stay out of my pocket. I'm not interested in paying more money just so you can play act at politics.

Vote No on Prop 1, ...because it will cost you more on the one hand, than you might save on the other.

whenpigsfly 09/24/13 - 11:13 am
More than insurance rates. It could be life and death.

If the K-Beach fire station is closed, your insurance rates will increase. When the fire district was upgraded from an 8 to a 7 ISO rating, my insurance rates dropped. Conversely, if the station is closed, the rating will change back to an 8 or possibly worse due to the closure. My tax savings will be spent on insurance premium increases. The higher the houses’ value, the greater the insurance rate hike will be. What is not mentioned in these numbers are the businesses located in the area. They will not get any kind of tax break, but they will see their insurance rates increase as well. NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE. The K-Beach fire station is staffed medics and an ambulance. The downtown station is 10 minutes away, at a minimum. The farther south, the more time needed to respond. Bleeding for an extra 10 minutes. Not breathing for an extra 10 minutes. Being trapped in a car after hitting a moose for an extra 10 minutes. Watching a loved one have a heart attack for an extra 10 minutes. Fearfully holding your child for an extra 10 minutes. These things are not worth $300.

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