Citizens file tax control initiative

Posted: Friday, April 01, 2005

A group of borough residents have filed with the Kenai Peninsula Borough's office an initiative they say would give voters a greater voice in decisions over borough capital projects.

If approved, the initiative would lower the level of the borough assembly's authority over capital spending, including money from grants, from the current ceiling of $1.5 million to $1 million.

According to the group, known as Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers, or ACT, projects costing in excess of $1 million would then require approval by 60 percent of voters in the affected area before spending could proceed.

"This initiative is not about eliminating capital projects," Mike McBride, ACT president, said in a press release issued Thursday. "It was designed to ensure there is public support for all large capital projects before they are built. Because taxpayers are required to pay all operations, staff and maintenance costs for the life of these projects, the public should also have a say in whether a project is built."

Ruby Kime, the initiative's prime sponsor, said the borough was "swimming in red ink" as Mayor Dale Bagley and the assembly consider new taxes, increased taxes and reduction of tax exemption provisions. Those conditions, she said, don't support arguments for new projects.

Thus, decisions on future projects "should be up to all of us and not just the assembly," she said.

Two versions of the initiative were submitted to the clerk. One, called ACT II, would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005. The other, ACT III, would take effect upon certification of the election in October.

ACT organizers said they would choose which initiative petitions to circulate in the event both initiatives are approved by the borough. If approved, sponsors would be required to collect 1,530 signatures from borough-registered voters in 90 days.

The borough has until April 13 to certify the initiatives.

Calls seeking comment to Mayor Dale Bagley and assembly President Gary Superman were not immediately returned.

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