Letters to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sales tax issue should serve as wake-up call to officials

The sales tax issue should be a wake-up call for the borough, the cities, and the school district. Unfortunately, it has become an exercise in the "sky is falling." It is time for all to start examining resources, taxes and expenditures. Where do you get it? How do you spend it and why?

The cities would have far more credibility on the current effort to exempt nonprepared food had they not rolled over when the borough assembly exempted auto leases from the sale tax. Not one word of complaint was heard.

Nothing illustrates the unfairness of a sales tax better than the exemption on auto leases. A $150,000 income guy leases a $500 per month car for 60 months. He pays a whole $25 in sales tax. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Doaks earn a combined $42,000. They rent a two-bedroom apartment at $600 per month. Over the same 60 months they pay $1,500 in sales tax.

Do our borough and the cities believe leasing a car is a necessity while having a roof over your head is a luxury? Based on how they tax it is.

In case our borough and city administrators and officials haven't been watching, the state is in real financial trouble. Too may legislators have been pandering to voters telling them we can have our cake and eat it too. The bubble is going to burst, and the state will have to cut funding for everything and pass costs onto the borough and the cities.

Even if the initiative is defeated, you're getting a wake-up call. Don't push the snooze button.

William J Phillips


Proposition No. 4 exacerbates already unequal tax situation

It saddens me to see the sales tax changes on the ballot for two reasons.

First, it adds to the already unequal tax situation. As it is now, the property owners and oil companies are paying for all the services such as police and fire protection, roads and road maintenance, schools and city and borough governments. Take away this part of the sales tax, and it will deprive the citizens who do not own property the opportunity to help pay for the services that they use and enjoy.

Second, corporate America will see this as a great opportunity to raise the price of food and, within months, the cost of groceries will be the same as it is now. Don't send this tax money outside to corporate America. Keep it home where it belongs.

Vote "No" on the sales tax reform.

Truman Peterson


(Former Soldotna resident, who still owns

property in Kenai and Soldotna)

Credible air carrier of comparable size needed to compete with Era

This Era controversy is right on. Just look back at travel cost through Southeast Alaska when Alaska Airlines was the only carrier operating there.

Then, along came MarkAir. The fares became extremely competitive and everyone traveled who couldn't afford it previously.

And then, almost immediately after MarkAir went out of business, Alaska Airlines raised the fares back to precompetition times, and travel also immediately dropped off.

There is no question that Alaska Airlines and Era have a temporary stranglehold on the Kenai Peninsula, but it's going to take an air carrier of the size and credibility of Alaska Airlines/Era to successfully compete.

Jim Rhode


Impounding cars of drunken drivers would help make highways safer

Every day when I read the paper I see where several people have been arrested for driving while intoxicated and revoked licenses.

Am I the only one concerned about these people out on our roads?

I have written about this before, but I was told there is no place to lock those people up.

I see that when these people go to court (unless it is dismissed) they get a slap on the wrist and a jail sentence and fines are suspended.

I see Anchorage has started impounding the cars for 30 days on a first offense, and they are taken and sold on second offense. This should get some of them off the road and maybe the borough could solve some money problems.

If you care about this, contact your assembly member and/or the mayor.

Thank you.

Gene Wheeler


Teachers only want to be fairly compensated for talent, hard work

Dear Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board members:

Most of you know me. You have seen me on stage, heard my groups, worked on Kenai Peninsula Schools Activities Association with me. I am one of your veteran teachers. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am an excellent teacher who has always tried to be part of the solution. I would not likely be characterized as radical. Like my colleagues, I care deeply about the KPBSD and even more deeply about the students I am entrusted to teach.

Recently, I went to Homer Middle School's open house as both teacher and parent. I was struck once again by depth and breadth of teaching talent here on the peninsula. I know and I am grateful that my son is receiving a quality education in this community. I am in awe of the teachers I know in my schools (Homer High School and Homer Middle School) and around this district. They are exceptionally bright, caring, motivated, gifted educators. They inspire me.

I have watched this last spring and summer with horror as the district's negotiation team has resorted to the worst kind of "hardball" tactics in an effort to "win" at negotiations. This breaks my heart. I love this community, the kids of this community, the hard-working and well-meaning people in Central Office and my colleagues. I know that a win by those standards is a loss for us all. These things I believe:

The future of our school district and its children, lies in our ability to recruit and retain the best teachers.

Our salary and benefits package is no longer remotely competitive.

It is the responsibility of each level of hierarchy to facilitate the work and morale of the levels below. Thus, as I am responsible for helping students learn, it is your job to help teachers teach and give Central Office the tools to recruit and retain teachers who will want to stay here because it is again a great place to teach.

If teachers "lose" in negotiations, students lose.

The No. 1 factor in determining the quality of a school district is the combined expertise and morale of its teaching staff. We are the bottom line.

The teachers and support staff in this district are NOT happy. We love our jobs and the students and colleagues we work with, but we are frustrated to no end by endless cuts, lack of raises and unproductive hardball bargaining from Central Office.

These are my beliefs. Just thought I'd share my point of view. It reflects, I believe, the overriding sentiment of my esteemed colleagues. We want to teach. We want to be fairly compensated for our talents, expertise and hard work. We want what's good for kids and for the future. These things are not too much to ask. I implore you to rethink your approach to this contract.

Mark Robinson, choral director

Homer High and Homer Middle schools

18th year working for the KPBSD

The Peninsula Clarion welcomes letters to the editor and attempts to publish all those received. However, all letters must include the writer's name, phone number and address.

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