Letters to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2002

'No' vote on Proposition No. 4 will help preserve quality of life

On Oct. 1, Kenai Peninsula voters will be asked to vote on Proposition No. 4, a sales tax initiative that, if approved, would exempt all sales of non-prepared food items from sales tax.

We all believe that any tax should bear close scrutiny. This tax bears up to that scrutiny and approving the initiative without knowing all of the possible ramifications is wrong. It would mean the loss of $2 million of borough revenues that go exclusively to the education of our children. Losing those revenues leaves two choices: cutting educational programs or finding the money elsewhere.

It also would cut the city of Soldotna's budget by $1 million a year. That's more than one-sixth of the city's entire operating budget. Consideration of cutting programs, such as the DARE program or the community schools, would have to be taken seriously.

We don't consider cutting our education budget by $2 million, reducing borough road maintenance or senior citizen program funding as an option. So that means increasing revenues elsewhere, such as through higher property taxes, would take place.

In our cities, it will either be making cuts in services like libraries, animal control, community schools, city parks and the Soldotna Sports Center or raising the residents' property taxes. These cuts will affect our quality of life, a life that drew us to the Kenai Peninsula to live and raise our families.

And when every possible cut is taken, where are we going to find the money to fill that gap? More than likely, it will be through increased property taxes. And in turn, that could be reflected in higher prices for groceries, supplies and even your rent. It sounds like stealing from Peter to pay Paul, and that doesn't make sense. In Soldotna, property taxes would have to triple to cover the cost. Why should the property owners of Soldotna be burdened with the entire tax responsibility when many residents outside the city limits enjoy and use the services provided by the city?

If you like the idea of tourists contributing to our tax base, then vote "no" on Proposition No. 4. Visitors account for about 15 percent of all grocery sales within Soldotna. That means if Proposition No. 4 passes, we'll be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars from our visitors not only in Soldotna, but within the entire Kenai Peninsula Borough.

When you go to the polls on Oct. 1, please vote "no" on Proposition No. 4. It is a vote to preserve our children's education and preserve our quality of life on the peninsula.

Justine Polzin, executive director

Soldotna Chamber of Commerce

Tax on basic food items is wrong; vote 'yes' on Proposition No. 4

Why should we continue to punish local grocery stores and force the citizens of the Kenai Peninsula to drive to Anchorage to purchase necessary food items? Let's help our local economy by spending our money locally.

A tax on basic food items is fundamentally wrong. It hurts families and local businesses.

Our borough government is saying that they will have to cut education if Proposition No. 4 passes. I think perhaps they should rethink their priorities and look at being more efficient with our money, instead of putting bike trails ahead of schools.

I read a letter in your newspaper saying that we were lucky that we only pay 5 percent tax on our groceries compared to the 8.8 percent that Seattle has. While Washington does have a sales tax, it specifically exempts unprepared food items, as do almost all states with a state sales tax.

I would like to urge voters of the Kenai Peninsula to vote for Proposition No. 4, the grocery tax exemption. Thank you.

Bob Phillips


Candidates in borough mayor's race offer different political philosophies

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayoral race offers a choice between two people with differing political philosophies. The winner of the election will greatly effect our families' financial health.

Incumbent Mayor Dale Bagley, who like President Bush is a compassionate conservative, is a man of high character and is full of meaningful ideas for our families. He has been able to accomplish several things despite a divided borough assembly, including the release of lands to the public, the development of new jobs and the lowering of real estate taxes. It is in these areas where he differs from his more liberal opponent Ken Lancaster.

Lancaster was most noted in the Legislature for trying to change the Alaska time zone and for his attempt to significantly raise taxes. He worked with his friend Tony Knowles and a few liberals and moderates in the Legislature to impose a tax plan that would have bankrupted many working families. The plan would have meant that most families would have paid $2,500-$4,000 per year for a new state income tax and lost permanent fund monies to meet a $900 million deficit that has suddenly decreased to a small fraction of their prediction. Fortunately, the tax plan was voted down by conservatives in the Senate, like Jerry Ward.

If you know how to read local political signs in the borough, you will see Mayor Bagley is supported by moderates and conservatives who favor a more efficient and non-intrusive government while Lancaster is supported by liberal activists and moderates who favor a bloated government and higher and additional taxes.

To tax more or to tax less is the question voters face in the mayoral election. Let's have a Boston Tea Party and sink the Lancaster ship.

Donald Szepanski


Lancaster did good job in House, will do a good job as borough mayor

Bill and Samon Arnold painted what I believe to be an unusually unfair picture of Ken Lancaster in Monday's Clarion.

They simply put forth a list of issues in which they disagree and tagged them with an acronym to get some attention. Anything that even smacks of a tax, no matter how beneficial it may be over the long run, was treated with disdain.

I disagree with the derogatory tone of the letter. As a member of the House, Ken was probably the most hard-working and dedicated person there. When he decided not to run again, I was very disappointed and

told him so. I felt legislators such as himself were too few and far between.

The issues he acted upon, whether you agree or disagree, are issues that must be faced in our future. We cannot run and hide from reality much longer.

It's no problem to find an anti-taxpayers group and scroll down and find issues that offend you. The problem is finding someone who can look beyond all the negativism and work together with all sides to achieve results that benefit us all. Ken did a good job in the House, and I feel will do a fine job as mayor.

Hal Rohlman


Words, actions should match; votes in House hurt Lancaster

It is very important that when we elect those to represent the people that their word they used to be elected by is good.

I have found Ken Lancaster to lead others and me to believe that he would not support touching the permanent fund dividend without a vote of the people.

He has voted for House Bills 20, 304, 3 and 35 and supported using up our constitutional budget reserve instead of curbing spending.

Also in a letter to me, the very first sentence is "Why is it whenever we say 'PFD,' everyone thinks it is their dollars?" My answer would be it is their dollars and we should have a say so, how that money is used! Eighty-four percent of the people in the state voted that way Sept. 14, 1999. He should have understood that.

I feel my confidence in Ken Lancaster has been abused. I think he should not have led me and others to believe his action was opposite his word.

I do think our present mayor does his best and does not lead others to believe otherwise.

Ed Martin Sr.


Lancaster, man about town, best choice for borough mayor

Since we moved to the Kenai Peninsula almost five years ago, I have been amazed at the selflessness of Ken Lancaster. He was mayor of Soldotna at that time but seemed to be everywhere, involved in everything of importance to our borough. I started thinking about all the things he does that few people are actually aware of.

Ken is always the one cooking the chili for the Progress Days celebration to be sold at the Soldotna Senior Center, and outside he is also donating his time to serve it. This year only a neighbor showed up to help him cook enough chili for hundreds of visitors. At the Soldotna City Creek Celebration, he was one of the few who donated his time to cook and serve all the hot dogs for most of the day.

He spent many years working to get the Peninsula Winter Games to Soldotna, which would bring people from all over Alaska to the peninsula to participate in the dog races, weight pulls and many children's events bringing revenue to the borough as well as recognition of all we have to offer and bring them back again.

Ken established a sister city for Soldotna, Noglicki in the Russian Sakhalin Islands, sharing our cultures and providing commerce. He has always been involved in the Soldotna Senior Citizen Center, giving our seniors a great place for care. He is an active member of the Methodist church, and he and his wife, Mavis, served a mission to South America to restore and rebuild the homes that were destroyed by hurricane Fifi; again, all donated time and resources.

He was president of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce for three years, and faithfully attends assembly and city council meetings to help make our peninsula a better place, speaking, handing out awards and offering his expertise and time where needed. He attends the hospital board work sessions all over the peninsula offering help and working together with the medical community.

Ken and Mavis work in our cleanup days every spring to help beautify our peninsula and bring back those paying tourists; and every year they go out on Community Patrol during the night, keeping Soldotna safe and possibly preventing crime by their persistent presence.

He worked for two years to bring the EADS defense plant to the Kenai Airport, which will provide much needed jobs. He was instrumental in the fish walks at the Soldotna Bridge and also at Swiftwater, which will protect the Kenai River banks and our precious salmon population while still providing access.

Of all the time and energy spent by this caring citizen, he never seeks payment or credit, he simply does it for the love of the peninsula. He is a true Alaskan and enjoys working to make it a greater place to live. No matter where I go, I see him participating, always actively working in the community. And so when I compare the two candidates for borough mayor, there is no question how I will vote.

No matter how you vote, be sure you do. Your candidates will not win without your vote on Oct. 1. It's your chance to make a difference!

Karrin Casper


Legislators who approved closed primary don't represent people

Every time I turn around my representatives are trying to take away my right to vote. First, it was the private prison and now the primary.

The main reason I'm registered as undeclared is so I could vote on the issues and cross party lines to help guarantee that I'm getting the best representation possible. Because I felt the need to fully support James Price, I was denied my freedom of choice to vote for my U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor and lieutenant governor in the closed primary. Also, just as disturbing was the fact I didn't have the freedom to vote for Joe Arness.

We need representatives that will honor and respect our vote. Now I understand that Sen. Jerry Ward and Rep. Mike Chenault voted to institute the closed primary. This is not the first time I've been disappointed with their performances. Mr. Ward's "Do Pass" recommendation and Mr. Chenault's "Yes" vote on House Bill 498 (to approve a "private prison" in Whittier) came immediately after we voted "No" to a private prison being built here on the Kenai Peninsula.

Whose interest are they representing? It's certainly not mine nor is it the 73 percent that voted "No"!

Please vote with these issues in mind. Make sure that those you are supporting have voted the way you would. Keep in mind that those you vote for and put into the Legislature, borough mayor's office and assembly can re-address the prison issue, should they choose to do so -- because of assemblyman Tim Navarre's introduction of a two-year sunset clause that was adopted and attached to Proposition No. 1 by the majority of our assembly members. The last battle cost the Kenai Peninsula Borough taxpayers over $100,000.

I want to take this opportunity to thank James Price for the prison initiative and his hard work to ensure that the citizens of the Kenai Peninsula had the right to vote on the proposed private prison. You are a stand-up kind of guy, and I'm so grateful your running in my district.

Keep up the good work, James, and good luck to you and the Republican Moderate and Green parties in pursuing a lawsuit again the state to help eliminate the closed primary. All of you have my complete support and James you have my vote!

To view your legislators' past voting record on fiscal issues, get online and check out www.akvoters.org. This new online service was formed by many of the people who sponsored the grass-roots organization that first opposed the Kenai private prison.

Vicki Duggin


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