Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Graduates of KPC's instrumentation program are successful getting jobs

This is in response to the letter in the June 28-29 edition of the Peninsula Clarion regarding, "Too few jobs in Alaska for number of professionals who go to college." The writer stated that "Hundreds of instrument techs were trained at Kenai Peninsula College with very little possibility of a job."

I would like to set the record straight and am pleased to say that is not the case. Since 1994, KPC has graduated on average, six to eight people per year in the instrumentation program. Of these all are working in the career field if they have chosen to do so.

We expect to graduate another three people next spring, and even though they still have two semesters to go, they're already working in the instrumentation field.

While it's true many new graduates don't get jobs immediately with the major oil companies, they are hired by oil contractor-service companies. After three to five years with these companies, many of them move onto major oil companies.

KPC has always been at the forefront of vocational education and is proud to offer more voc ed training than any other University of Alaska Anchorage extended campus. We look forward to continuing our 38-year tradition of providing a varied menu of educational programs to our friends and neighbors on the peninsula and to others who attend classes here from other parts of Alaska, the country and the world.

Gary J. Turner, director

Kenai Peninsula College

Eliminating sales tax on food would give area economic boost

Regarding the article on the initiative to exempt sales tax on food: I suspected that the borough used the same accounting firm that Juneau last used to estimate the costs of moving the capital. It appears they did:

The article states that both Kenai and Soldotna could lose a million each in sales tax revenues. At their share of 3 percent, that means that each city generates $33,333,333 each in non-prepared food sales. There are about 25,000 people in the central peninsula area. This comes to $2,667 per person or $222 per person per month.

Do you spend that much each month on food alone? Don't count toilet paper or cleaning supplies or deli food.

According to the June 2002 Alaska Economic Trends article (see http://www.labor.

state.ak.us/research/research/col.htmon), the cost of food at home for a family of four with elementary-aged children as of September 2001 (latest figures) is:

Anchorage: $106.43 (no sales tax);

Kenai: $119.55 (includes 5 percent sales tax)

(Source: "Cost of Food at Home for a Week" University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service)

It costs 12 percent more to buy food in Kenai! Without the sales tax, it would only be 7 percent more. Twelve percent constitutes a good reason to go to Anchorage to buy groceries!

The article also shows that in Anchorage, the average family spends about 41.5 percent of its income on housing, and about 14.5 percent of its income on food. Budget experts say that most people spend about 15-30 percent of their income on food, but this includes prepared food in restaurants. So the 14.5 percent is reasonable, if you live frugally.

Using these figures, the average family of four spends $113.88 on groceries a week, or $114 per person per month. If everyone on the central peninsula (approximately 25,000 people) bought their groceries in Kenai or Soldotna, their 3 percent of the sales tax collected on food would total $1,026,000 per year to be split between the two cities. So Kenai and Soldotna would be looking at about half a million less revenue. This is half of the finance directors' gloom and doom predictions. The borough's 2 percent of the take would equal $684,000 per year less from what is collected in the central peninsula area.

Not figured into the mix is how much more sales tax might be generated by people shopping locally instead of making a trip to Anchorage. If you can save 12 percent on your grocery bill by driving to Anchorage, you will also purchase as many non-grocery items at the same time as you can afford. This robs our borough merchants of not only the sales tax revenue, but also the gross sales. Larger gross sales translates to busier stores and more employees hired to serve them.

Let's give our area a financial boost by eliminating sales tax on food!

Vicki Pate

Nikiski



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