Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2002

Working poor need help

Concerning your editorial of Sept. 22 on Proposition 4: You are correct in asserting that the poor are being helped by measures that are in place to prohibit sales tax from being charged on purchases with food stamps. However, I am concerned with those who do not receive food stamps and are of the working poor, those who have struggled to go off the welfare programs and are attempting to raise a family while employed in low-wage occupations. The cost of food represents a significant factor in their everyday purchases and even a small relief would be of great benefit to them.

As you state perhaps the initiative will serve as a catalyst for the cities and borough to review their sales tax policies. I would hope that they would consider the working poor in their considerations.

Charles M. Quarre, Sterling

Proposition No. 1's Plan B offers better representation

I think we know that Proposition No. 1 Plan B will give better representative on the school board because we will have better access to our representatives, who will live in our communities. Candidates can afford to campaign in a district, rather than be forced to campaign from Seldovia to Nikiski to Seward. The candidate will be elected, rather than his/her money or big name.

Teachers: Just think -- passage of Plan B will mean a whole new school board next year!

Doug Stark, Homer

Soldotna resorts to fear tactics to defeat proposition

I am against the city of Soldotna using taxpayer funds to oppose our citizens' ballot initiative, Proposition No. 4, which will eliminate sales tax collection on food items from the grocery store. They're promoting false statements to scare our citizens into not changing current tax policies. They've hired an Anchorage public relations firm, taken a push poll and are using a marketing ploy designed to scare people with untrue statements.

Education funding will not suffer due to Proposition No. 4. There is no shortage of funds for education. The state limits the amount of money dedicated for education, not our initiative. The borough's own estimate indicates that if property taxes were increased to fully recover all loses dedicated for education, taxes on a $100,000 home would be increased by $49 per year. The benefits for our senior citizens and families would be much greater than the burden on borough property owners.

Property taxes need not be raised in excess of the benefits received by our local citizens. The benefits for a family of four equal $400 per year, after taxes are removed from grocery sales on nonprepared food. The borough's own estimates clearly show that if all the losses are replaced by property tax increases alone, no private home owner anywhere within any municipality will be forced to pay a tax increase of $400 per year on a $100,000 home.

People in most other states and in most places in Alaska don't pay tax on food items purchased at the grocery store. Tourists buy most of their food at restaurants, which will continue to collect taxes. Sales taxes on groceries do not generate large amounts of revenue from tourists, it generates money from local residents.

There's also the fact that sales tax revenue from all sales have increased. Sales tax revenue has increased for the borough alone by $1.8 million since 1999. Sales tax revenue for Soldotna has increased by $740,000. Why should we need any increase in taxes? Perhaps our elected officials should consider this fact.

You can contact the borough finance department and ask for their "Food Sales Tax Exemption Summary." Get the facts, don't fall for Soldotna's government-financed fear campaign. Make our community a better place to live. Vote "yes" on Proposition No. 4.

Laurie Churchill, Nikiski

Bagley deserves to be re-elected as borough mayor

During the last year Mayor Dale Bagley traveled to Chile to gain insight into the salmon industry. Every August, he promotes tourism, oil and fishing at Industry Appreciation Day. An auspicious promotion of Kenai Wild salmon was launched to promote quality and identity of commercially caught salmon and revitalize a flagging commercial fishing industry. There is a buzz of activity on the advancing preparations for the Arctic Winter Games. When the school district budget suffered a shortfall, Mayor Bagley funded close to $2 million over the cap.

Like so many others, I appreciate his successful efforts and support him in his bid for re-election. Thanks, Dale.

John McCombs, Ninilchik

Many different reasons to support Lancaster for mayor

Having listened to the candidate's debate at the recent chamber of commerce meeting, it's clear that both Ken Lancaster and Dale Bagley share many views on government and its role in economic development, land use and public education.

What distinguishes them is more their individual records of accomplishments and their approach to problem solving and group interactions. Ken Lancaster can bring conflict and dissent into the open, and uses it productively to enhance the quality of decisions. His work on the Kenai River restoration stands out as an example of stepping forward courageously and building trust with others through his own follow-through on commitments.

Ken has served our electrical co-op for over 25 years. He has served as a council member of the city of Soldotna, mayor of the city of Soldotna and currently is our state representative to Juneau. He has demonstrated a great capacity to gather information systematically, consider a broad range of factors, grasp complexities, seek input and use accurate logic in arriving at actions.

Ken shows up at meetings prepared and ready to participate in the discussions. He's a problem solver and looks for consensus. That's why I'm voting for Ken Lancaster for borough mayor.

Dennis Murray, Soldotna

Politicians lying about effects of Proposition No. 4

Please stop lying and passing on the lies about the sales tax. Look at

the facts and not the crap you are being fed by the politicians.

First, if the borough, city of Soldotna and city of Kenai claim they are

going to lose $4,000,000, then the Carrs, Safeway and Fred Meyer stores are selling over $100,000,000 of groceries. No way is that being sold. Think about it!

Second, the sales tax goes to the general fund, not to any special education fund. The borough has a $23,000,000-surplus of money! That means they could cut sales tax, fund education and maintain the same level of service and reduce taxes! When is the borough going to pay dividends on the surplus?

Never!

The city of Soldotna, whose manager is using taxation terrorism on the

people, knows that they only have to up the maximum on nonfood items past the $25 to make up any difference lost in sales tax. But he wants to terrorize his own people!

Stop the tax terrorism. Print the facts and not the fictions and scare tactics.

Mark D. Osterman, Kasilof

Lancaster's record cannot be trusted

I am nauseated by Ken Lancaster's ads bidding for mayor of borough when his proven track record in the bid for State House as well as his performance while in Juneau these past two years was a complete breach of trust to the people of state of Alaska.

In his bid for State House the pre-election ads and statements to individuals and organizations were that he would not in any way erode the permanent fund dividend. People elected him believing he would not erode thr PFD without a vote of the people.

The record is increase expenditures by voting for an income tax, House Bills 20 and 302, as well as, yes, for all bills raiding the permanent fund. This is a complete breach of trust -- say one thing, do another.

Mr. Lancaster should not be allowed to serve in any position of trust in the state or local level in government. He simply cannot be trusted.

Harriet Moravec, Kasilof

Yes on Proposition No. 4 is vote for leaner government

How much government do we really need?

There are nine representative governments on the Kenai Peninsula. They include federal, state, borough, Homer, Kachemak City, Kenai, Seldovia, Seward and Soldotna. While this may sound impressive to some, it will appear absurd to others.

The current population of this borough is less than 50,000 people. Anywhere else in the world a population of this size would be considered a village, hamlet or small town. Because each of these government entities requires money to operate, taxes are levied using various methods and formulas. In exchange for taxes these governments provide services, many of which are duplicated up to four times. By no stretch of the imagination can this be considered efficient!

We should discuss how we are going to pay for essential government services, and begin the weaning process for unnecessary spending now. Let's get the ball rolling before we run short of revenue. Our failure to plan could result in disruption of essential services and-or much higher than needed taxes in the future.

Several possible solutions to consider include consolidation of governments, replacing the borough mayor with an administrator and lower taxes. Instead of using our tax dollars to keep six mini-cities and the borough afloat, we create one government body. Why should we continue to pay the cost of seven administrations when one can easily do the work?

For borough mayor we pay a CEO salary, but end up with a "beauty contest" winner every three years. Why don't we change this system and hire real administrators? Someone with experience and the necessary qualifications to run an efficient government, not someone with the ability to raise campaign finances. We could still have an unpaid mayor for ceremonial purposes, but the real work of administering this new consolidated government would be done by a properly trained expert.

Proposition No. 4 represents a small measure of tax relief to consumers of nonprepared foods. This will also result in some revenue loss for government entities within the borough. Some may view this proposition as a fiscal disaster, while others will see the opportunity for shrinking government to a realistic size and cost.

The majority of taxpayers want a smaller, more efficient government, while politicians and bureaucrats clearly do not. We must listen carefully to what all candidates say, and support those who will actually represent us. Those promising "more of the same" or "business as usual" are clearly out of touch with the average citizen.

Remember to vote for smaller government and tax relief for our lower income neighbors, families and senior citizens. Vote "yes" on Proposition No. 4 on Tuesday.

Mike McBride, Kenai

Seward students deserve better school

Consider this: leaky roofs, cracked and broken tiles, inadequate and deteriorating toilet facilities, rotting window sills and uncertain structural integrity. If this were your house what would you do? Consider renovating? What if this structure was originally built in 1969 and still utilized most of its original mechanical systems? Is it time for new or will you keep pouring money into the old?

Above is a description of the present Seward Middle School which currently houses much of the eastern Kenai Peninsula teen population. Granted they may need a padded room at times but not the disgrace that is detailed above.

At an estimated $14 million to build a new school to be useful for 25-30 years compared to $10.7 million to bring the existing building to code for another five to 10 years what will you choose? Please choose to support the kids of Seward and vote "yes" to pass Proposition No. 3 titled "Educational Capital Improvement General Obligation Bonds."

Let's be responsible parents and correct this problem before it becomes unmanageable.

Patricia Linville, mother of three teens, Seward



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