Borough Ordinance 2004-13 was introduced by Mayor Dale Bagley to raise the sales tax cap from its current ceiling of $500 to $1,000. This proposed tax increase is projected to generate an additional $2,000,000 for borough government. However, there was no projection of how many jobs will be lost or how much revenue will be removed from the economy, due to this proposed tax increase.
At the May 18 borough assembly meeting it was inferred the public could have this increase in sales tax or a mill rate increase on property tax. Those were the only choices given. Instead of choosing which tax increase to adopt, perhaps we should take a closer look at where Mayor Bagley is proposing to spend our money.
The items below are in the proposed budget. This is only a partial list of questionable spending items: Kenai River Center, $459,295; disaster relief fund, $50,000; underground tank removal fund, $12,550; Community and Economic Development Department (Cook Inlet Salmon Brand, Arctic Winter Games promotion, Taste of Kenai party, economic exchange trip to Japan, oil and gas delegation, miscellaneous parties and public events), $603,299; Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, $142,500; senior citizen grants, $398,322; CARTS (subsidized public transportation), $50,000; Arctic Winter Games cash contribution, $200,000; Washington, D.C., lobbyist, $55,000; transportation-subsistence, $346,482; in-state and out-of-state travel, $55,000; car allowance, $133,294; dues and subscriptions, $96,779; for a grand total of $2,602,521.
I encourage you to get a copy of the budget from the borough finance department and to find more questionable spending.
If you support these projects and feel that the proposed tax increases are justified, then you should say nothing.
However, if you would prefer to keep this money in your pocket, then make some noise!
Contact information for assembly members by phone or e-mail can be found on the Web at: http://www.akvoters.org/KPB Contact.htm.
Will your voice or written comments make a difference? You won't know unless you try.
The budget and sales tax cap issues will have their final hearing on June 1. This may be the last opportunity to make your opinion known on this important issue.
Mike McBride , North Kenai
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