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Smith: Increased operating costs an important issue

District 8 Homer

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007

Name: Bill Smith

Age:

Occupation: Construction project manager

Family: Four grown children

Education: High school diploma, various undergraduate studies, numerous professional courses

Organizations and special interests: Pratt Museum, KBBI, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust

Previously held elected office: SPH Service Area Board, KPC Kachemak Campus Advisory Board, Homer City Planning Commision

1. What do you see as the three most important issues the assembly must address in the next three years?

Increased operating costs: Energy cost, Insurance, retirement, labor and material. Every sector is increasing in cost as fast or faster than our tax base.

Limited Tax revenue: Property tax and sales tax revenues continue to grow, but are hard pressed to fund increasing costs. The Assembly needs to take a fresh look at the balance between sales tax and property tax to make sure we maintain a fair balance.

Education Funding: There is light at the end of the tunnel for adjusting the funding formula used by the State. A permanent, fair adjustment will relieve some pressure on peninsula tax payers. Forward funding of education and an endowment of education from the permanent fund are ideas the voters of the state should be given the opportunity to consider.

2. How do you view the current relationship between the administration, assembly and the public? Does it need improving and if so, how?

Although often perceived as negative toward the Homer area, I believe the assembly is mostly a bunch of normal and sensible people trying their best to manage a large and diverse borough. This balancing act is not simple and there will be times when some people feel their interests were not well served. Easier said than done, our task is to engage the Assembly and borough administration in a positive way which will address their concerns while meeting our needs.

I have the advantage of much experience with local issues and a background in planning which will enable me to easily supply the details for factual advocacy for our needs.

3. What do you see as the role of the borough government? Is it too big? If so, what services would you cut? Too small? If so, what services would you add?

It is well established that government should meet commonly held social goals which are best met by collective action. These include operating schools, and owning and maintaining the road system for example. As the population grows, there will be new questions about how we use government to meet our needs.

It is hard to see how we can shrink borough government given the present level of demand. One persons waste is another's essential.

The borough could spin off some subdivision and planning responsibilities to the cities and save money for all parties.

4. If voters approve, ballot initiatives will set term limits on assembly and school board seats and treat terms already served retroactively. What is your opinion of the initiatives and their possible effect?

Basic flaws of both initiatives are the overboard limits to time between terms, definitions of terms and retroactive application.

It is difficult to find qualified people to serve on the school board and the voters should be allowed to chose from available volunteers. School board members have little influence vested by incumbency and should not be subjected to term limits.

Demanding three years between periods of service is unreasonable, when one year would have served well.

My race is for a one year seat, which will count the same as a full three year term. Where is the fairness in that?

Retroactive application of term limits could end the service of some assembly members who were just elected by their district. If chosen by their district, the rest of the borough voters should not overturn that election.



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