Micciche: Food tax prop negative for Soldotna

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008

Age: 46

Occupation: Superintendent, Asset and Operating Integrity (ConocoPhillips - 24 years)

Family: Wife, Erin; daughters, Madeline, 13, and Sophia, 2, and expecting child in January

Education: BA in Management (Summa): Alaska Pacific University

Organizations and special interests: Soldotna Rotary, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club Board, Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Board, appointee: Alaska Partnership for Infrastructure Protection, appointee: National Fire Protection Association Standards Committee, Certified Infrastructure Protection Specialist, Registered Environmental manager, volunteer for various community service organizations and organizations committed to the health of the Kenai River; Industry Community Person of the Year in 1998 and 2004.

I enjoy fishing, hunting, hockey, skiing, snowmachining and golfing.

Previously held elected office and experience: Currently represent on Seat D of Soldotna City Council and my profession has provided many years of large budget and community stakeholder experience throughout the U.S.

Ways for voters to contact you: On my cell -- 252-6759, at home -- 262-6165 -- or by e-mail at peter.micciche@acsalaska.net

1. What do you think the role of the Soldotna mayor should be?

Responsibilities include presiding over council meetings, limited voting/veto powers, board/commission appointments and serving as a liaison with borough/state/federal representatives. The Mayor commits necessary time, energy and effort to serve as the primary leader and competent spokesman for our thriving community.

Yet, the most important role of our Mayor is serving as the city's keeper of the community's vision; helping citizens to appreciate the greatness of Soldotna today, yet actively inspiring citizens to work toward improvement plans for the future.

The Mayor serves by representing and protecting the rights of all city residents equally, professionally and courteously by striving to make every Soldotna citizen feel at home and welcome in the municipal process.

Soldotna has changed from a city without stoplights, to one with many. The Mayor assists citizens to accept inevitable change, avoid unplanned negative change and to work together for positive change resulting in a well-planned and sustainable community.

2. Where do you think the Soldotna cemetery should be located? Why?

The memorial park location is the most difficult decision I've made while serving on the council. I attended each task force meeting, listened to citizens, walked each parcel and finally chose a selection from task force's recommendations.

I chose the site near the airport because I felt the Redoubt site was not large enough for task force criteria, the site had an impact on neighbors, the access road was cost prohibitive and I felt land in Soldotna's core may better serve in the distant future as a community center location.

I can only hope constituents understand it was simply not possible to please all sides on the memorial park issue. However, I believe there are other interesting site options that remain. I'm willing to work with interested citizens to identify a site that serves as a compromise so that ribbon cutting day at Soldotna Memorial Park becomes a united event.

3. How will not taxing groceries in the off-season impact the city's budget?

Passage of the nonprepared food tax initiative without a general law city exemption would be immediately negative for Soldotna citizens or nonresidents that enjoy Soldotna city services.

The projected negative impact to Soldotna's budget is between $710,000 and $800,000. However, the unintended consequences of the tax exemption go much deeper. The total property tax revenue in Soldotna is approximately $640,000, and a $710,000 reduction would require eliminating services or doubling the mill rate to balance the budget. Tax increases would not only be paid by property owners, but would also be passed on to renters and retail customers; further negatively impacting Soldotna's economy.

Much like paying the user fee to swim at the Nikiski recreational facility, Soldotna sales tax serves as a fee allowing Soldotna to provide library, sports center and other city services for the majority of service users in our community that do not reside within city limits.

4. What is the biggest issue facing Soldotna? How would you address it?

The most challenging of several key issues includes the redistribution of sales tax revenue from Soldotna to Kenai, creating a projected revenue gap of $1.2 to $1.8 million.

Ultimately, that requires reducing services, increasing the mill rate (it was 3.5 in 1991 vs. 1.65 today) or a combination of both if new revenue and investment is not secured. Soldotna residents deserve protection against tax increases in this difficult economy. Residents and city employees deserve the security that comes with a diversified sales tax base.

My resource plan includes determining the cost of efficient government and working with the city manager and council to court responsible retailers to Soldotna to fund the gap. We can no longer chase away retail opportunities at the expense of taxpayers. There is no desire to increase our population; the plan is simply to adequately fund the city to keep Soldotna affordable for families and seniors.

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