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Budget issues can be addressed without more taxes

Posted: March 5, 2014 - 4:46pm  |  Updated: March 6, 2014 - 9:41am

In Mayor Navarre’s announcement to run for re-election he made several statements that are audacious at best and surely deflecting poor management by the borough, under the guise of “it’s the seniors’ fault” that Kenai Peninsula Borough service areas are in need of additional funding.

From the mayor, Feb. 25: Seniors use emergency services more than any other group, but they’re exempt from paying for them. He said if he doesn’t evaluate that area of the budget, the burden is going to shift to other demographics. In other words: It’s the seniors’ fault!

Another slap at seniors or poor political advice? Either way it is an odd way to start a political campaign.

Let’s set the record straight with facts versus political rhetoric.

Fact: Seniors (65 plus) are covered by Medicare.

Fact: Medicare pays for medically necessary transport to hospitals or emergency care facilities when billed. (Source — Medicare.gov)

The Mayor can simply direct the borough finance department to bill Medicare for the emergency services. It is not difficult and will reduce the service area tax burden on all residents. If Mayor Navarre is not comfortable doing this on his own, I am quite sure the Assembly would support him on the issue. It does not need a department or a committee, just a directive to the borough Finance Director.

In addition, Medicaid pays for medically necessary transport to hospitals or emergency care facilities when billed. (Source — medicaid.gov). Most health insurance policies pay for medically necessary transport and now that we have Obamacare, by law, everyone must have insurance.

Fact: The borough can bill for all emergency service and reduce the overall tax burden on all residents.

There are only two reasons for not billing: poor management or financial malfeasance.

Mr. Mayor, the first reaction should not be blame seniors, blame residents and raise taxes. You have the reins of leadership and can fix the perceived problem with your pen.

Manage finances, reduce taxes and reduce rhetoric.

Now, in addition to seniors, the blame for budget shortfalls is also being put on KPB residents voting to raise the residential tax exemption to $50,000.

The KPB is not losing revenue — the residents voted to keep their own money. The $1.5 million the borough will use to offset the exemption raise is not excess revenue, it is excess collection of taxes from residents. It is not the mayor’s or the borough’s money — it is excess tax collected from borough residents. KPB residents voted to reduce their taxes and keep their hard earned money. Budgets reflect future spending projections — propose less and spend less. It is not magic, it is management.

Fact: It is the job of the mayor and the borough to manage borough finances and to support and honor the will of the people.

The will of the people is clear. Embrace it, support it and move forward.

Additional comments can be found at KPBSeniors.com

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kearbear
509
Points
kearbear 03/06/14 - 04:46 pm
6
2
The State mandates that all

The State mandates that all boroughs exempt the first $150,000 of assessed valuations for Seniors. The people residing in the KPB voted to increase the personal exemption from the original $20 thousand to the current $50 thousand. All resident property owners, regardless of age, qualify for this exemption. There are four boroughs that have unlimited exemptions for Senior resident property owners. (Aleutians East, Denali, North West Arctic, North Slope).

Senior exemptions are a temporary exemption. It cannot be claimed until the resident property owner is 65 years old. When the Senior passes away, or sells the property, full tax rates resume on the property. Lifespan after 65 is totally unknown depending on the overall health problems suffered by Seniors. The intent of the Senior exemption is to attract Seniors to continue to live in Alaska and spend their retirement funds in Alaska. Many Seniors take out reverse mortgages to supplement their SS and spend their entire estates in Alaska before passing away. This benefits Alaska small business with millions of dollars of spending in Alaskan communities. A solid customer base.

Most Seniors are not driving drunk, driving recklessly, running meth labs, running illicit pot farms, acquiring STD's, getting in bar fights, victimizing their spouses with domestic abuse and neglect. Emergency services respond to all calls and people involved in these calls usually have no insurance or ability to pay. Seniors over 65 are covered by Medicare and Medicare pays for ambulatory response calls. Start billing for services rendered. Bill everyone whether they are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Private Insurance, Self Insured or uninsured.

Suss
3508
Points
Suss 03/06/14 - 01:29 pm
2
3
Missing the CES tax base point.

CES requires funding for alot more than an ambulance run. The ambulance rides are covered by Medicare. Costs of the buildings, equipment, training, salaries, insurance, and on and on and on keep the CES operating. Folks pay for the emergency services through special property tax assessments. Ambulance fees would probably not cover their fuel bill.

Now if I had a mortgage of $938,250.00 And a Borough assessment of less than half of that amount on this subject property, who am I cheating and why am I whining about getting over on taxes?

There is no reason to screw the fire department.

kearbear
509
Points
kearbear 03/07/14 - 11:21 pm
4
2
In his announcement to be a

In his announcement to be a candidate in the next election, Mayor Navarre blames Seniors for overusing emergency services. Although ambulance rides would be covered, the Borough is not billing. Do you comprehend that statement? Medicare and Medicaid are not being billed. There is no logic to that fact, however that is a fact. If the borough actually billed individuals for services, raising taxes would not be an issue.

The State mandates a $150,000 Senior exemption for all boroughs. The citizens voted for a $50,000 exemption for all resident property owners regardless of age. The KPB offers a $150,000 optional Senior exemption to encourage Seniors not to move. Most Seniors residing in KPB reside in homes valued under $300,000. In your theoretical nonsensical example, a Senior Resident Property Owner who owned a million dollar house would still be paying taxes on over $650,000. Property taxes are paid at the full mill rate for the assessed value above $350,000 which would be well over $5,000 a year in property taxes.

ptzsr1
239
Points
ptzsr1 03/06/14 - 03:59 pm
4
0
update on service areas

Several service areas do have the right to bill for certain services. However, most of the billing is inter agency billing.

Nikiski has the right to bill for ambulance, not fire.
Bear Creek has the right to bill for Rescue-- However, $0.00 in revenue.
Anchor Point does no billing.
CES has right to bill ambulance, not fire.
N. Peninsula does no billing.
Seldovia does no billing.

A universal billing plan for ambulance and fire will contribute revenue without the need to increase taxes.

Fire equipment, buildings and training are mostly funded by State and Federal grants.

Suss
3508
Points
Suss 03/06/14 - 04:49 pm
2
3
Bill for Fire? ptzsr1

"A universal billing plan for ambulance and fire will contribute revenue without the need to increase taxes."

No, not here, not ever, should we bill a property owner victim for a fire that a Borough fire department was called to put out. The only exception is where the owner is criminally responsible for the fire. To suggest the thought of billing of a fire victim for their loss, shows a very selfish and blackened heart. You are not and never will be a true Alaskan with a mindset that could conceive of such a miserable idea. Billing a victim, to keep you from paying a possible and yet marginal fire service mil rate, makes me wonder and think you have very twisted agenda!

"Fire equipment, buildings and training are mostly funded by State and Federal grants."

Maintenance, salaries, PERS, upkeep, fuel, insurance and all the other day to day operating costs are not covered by grants.
Most grants require a matching share funded by the Borough.
There is no free when there are continual costs after putting something in service for emergency services.

ptzsr1
239
Points
ptzsr1 03/06/14 - 06:21 pm
3
2
Billing for fire sevices

Many insurance companies pay a portion of the fire services rendered to their insured as part of their homeowners/ fire policy. They only pay if billed.

That is what homeowners insurance is for.

Nikiski fire truck 2012.
Cost $975,000
State grant $975,000

Cost to Nikiski $0
Cost to KPB $0

https://omb.alaska.gov/ombfiles/13_budget/CapBackup/proj57470.pdf

kearbear
509
Points
kearbear 03/07/14 - 11:22 pm
3
1
Of course nothing is free.

Of course nothing is free. That's the point. Yet, you want emergency services for free. You don't want to pay a fee for services provided. Yes, there are matching funds when millions of dollars in grant money is requested from the State.

Insurance is purchased to cover these damages including having emergency responders to fires. If it is possible for the borough to recover costs, they should attempt to do so from the homeowners insurance or the patients healthcare insurance. That's what insurance is for. The point is to find the best solution to problems. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2011/08/12/210705.htm

Suss
3508
Points
Suss 03/06/14 - 08:01 pm
2
3
FireTax

The issue is not paying property tax including fire service tax. That is getting services for free. Paying the marginal tax to have fire service is not wanting free anything. Kearbear you turned the tax issue on yourself. Not paying.....free. Paying property and fire service taxes is not free. So your position is don't pay taxes for fire service, just buy extra insurance? No thanks.
This site you posted ....http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2011/08/12/210705.htm
Commercial property insurance is the topic not homeowner policies, that is what the article discussed. Alaska already has the ability to bill and recover fire service fees for commercial response costs.

Fire protection service fee insurance is not in your homeowner policy. It would be available as an added and seperate insurance that would only be needed if some jerk started a campaign to bill fire victims. Again I say take your ideas for billing fire victims and stick them in a dark hole. Wherever you came from with these ideas is a good place for you to go back to and enjoy them, this is not the Alaskan way to charge service fees to the fire victim. This is not wanting something for free, this the moral and Alaskan way to treat a neighbor after a fire. What state are you from? This is so wrong and so foreign
to how our local government works.

Fire truck did not get here for free, does not operate and maintain itself for free. I bet that truck uses more fuel in a month than someone's $1,500.00 in yearly property taxes.

kearbear
509
Points
kearbear 03/06/14 - 09:53 pm
4
1
The issue is the Mayor's

The issue is the Mayor's absurd claim that "Seniors use emergency services more than any other group, but they’re exempt from paying for them." As I stated, Seniors are covered by Medicare and the indigent are covered by Medicaid. Others are covered by private insurance, others self insured, others uninsured. Everyone should be billed for emergency services particularly since there is a funding shortfall. This is the purpose of insurance. No one should expect to receive any services for free. Homeowners insurance should be billed for responding to a call. Fire Department Service Charge: Commonly covered. Any homeowner taking the risk of not carrying homeowner's insurance is irresponsible and a "free rider".

Anyone driving a car while not carrying insurance who gets in an accident is reckless, irresponsible, and a law breaker. Obamacare is the law of the land and anyone without healthcare insurance is a law breaker as of March 31.

The KPB should not need to raise taxes on any residential property owners. Taxes are high enough and a burden. The borough needs to adopt the appropriate statutes and needs to be acting in the best interests of the taxpayers and begin collecting funds from the people who access these services. Of course, resident property owners should pay all appropriate property taxes.

Suss
3508
Points
Suss 03/06/14 - 10:44 pm
2
3
Paying for Emergency Services Tax

The mayor is correct. Senior property tax exemptions make it so that seniors when exempted do not have to pay the fire/emergency services tax on their property. Why is that so hard to understand? There is more to paying service fees/taxes than just the fee for the ambulance ride.

ManInBlack
182
Points
ManInBlack 03/07/14 - 05:47 pm
1
3
With folks like peter and kearbear

it's pretty easy to see why so many kids these days have a severe entitlementality.

It never ceases to amaze me how we are supposed to feel sorry for all these poor faux Alaskans who have homes in other states (that they bail to in the winter) and their "hardship" of having to pay borough taxes. It sure would be nice to see the exemption require no leaving the state for more than 90 days in order to qualify (with exeption for medical issues). All of the REAL Alaskan seniors I know have actually contributed to the development of the Borough communities through hard work and personal sacrifice (sorry pete, having a $400k house and shop built in Homer does not qualify as a contribution). I would wager that pete also applies for a resident fishing license (free for seniors), registers his vehicles as a senior (free), and takes advantage of every other give-away he can find. Kudos to you pete for attaining the pinnacle of social leaching! We don't mind at all having to carry your weight... (sarcasm)

kearbear
509
Points
kearbear 03/07/14 - 09:45 pm
3
1
To qualify, for the Senior

To qualify, for the Senior exemption the applicant must be age 65 or older, own and occupy the property as their primary residence and permanent place of abode, and must also qualify for an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. At the age of 60 all Alaskan residents qualify for a lifetime fishing and hunting license.

"With a median age of 33.8 years, Alaska is the third-youngest state in the nation after Utah and Texas. Alaska is home to relatively few people age 65 and older. In 2010, that age group was just 7.7 percent of Alaska’s population, the smallest share of any state."

According to the 2010 Census the Kenai Peninsula Borough has a total population of 55,400 people and of that amount 6,276 are aged 65 years or older. Assuming 2 Seniors per household there could be approximately 3,135 Senior exemptions claimed in the KPB. Any home valued above $350,000 resumes paying taxes at the full mill rate.
http://labor.state.ak.us/research/trends/aug12art1.pdf

Suss
3508
Points
Suss 03/07/14 - 07:41 pm
1
3
Age 60 for PID

ADFG has a couple of other sleeper requirements that come up years later, usually in the form of a summons.

Alaska Senior Residents
Alaska residents who are 60 years of age or older and meet the Department of Fish and Game’s residency definition are eligible for a senior identification card (PID) in order to hunt, sport fish, or trap for free. Applicants must be physically present in the State of Alaska to apply. Applicants who complete the form and meet age and residency requirements will receive a PID card within 1-4 weeks.

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