Borough cuts to KPTMC gut the agency

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Re: Editorial of Sunday, May 8, "Borough government shouldn't be in tourism business."

Perhaps the writers of this opinion, (whoever "we" is) should re-examine the reality of the interrelationship between tourism and the borough government.

Here's how the borough government has created "a fair business environment through licensing and regulating."

All charter boat seats in the borough are denied a cap on packages. So a group of six tourists purchasing 6 seats at $200 a seat ($1,200) will pay $72 sales tax, at 6 percent, instead of the $30 cap on all other local businesses sales exceeding $500.

There is also the tourism bed tax, which again excludes the group of 6 tourists from the $500 cap, which means they also have to pay additional tax per room per night, three rooms for two nights at $150 per room equals sales tax revenue of $54 in Soldotna. This is what you ("we') at the Clarion call "a fair business environment" created by borough government.

It looks to me like the guiding/charter/lodging component of the tourism industry is fueling a substantial part of borough government, not to mention that there is a seasonal sales tax specifically focused on tourism dollars.

So why did the borough mayor, Dave Carey, exclude funding from this year's budget for the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council? It makes no sense.

Whether you like tourism or not, the fact will remain that it is a clean industry and major economic engine of the Kenai Peninsula. The borough government is very much in the tourism business and should be.

The proposed 1 percent sales tax increase earmarking tourism dollars doesn't sound like it would withstand judicial scrutiny. It would target only a portion of tourism dollars unless you propose putting in toll booths, say, by the Welcome to the Kenai Peninsula sign near Turnagain Arm, and all Kenai Peninsula airports. Oops, sorry, that toll booth thought was a bad one. All you politicians please disregard and remove this thought from your minds.

Your ("we") final paragraph was very misleading. You ("we") intimate that the KPTMC wants to fund its endeavors with "more taxpayer money" when that taxpayer, in reality, is the tourist.

I agree everyone has to make cuts, but by eliminating funding, the borough administration is cutting the heart right out of KPTMC. It is mean spirited and a huge political mistake.

Rod Berg; Rod'N Real Charters/Lodging, Soldotna

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