Candidate profile: Bill Smith

Props. 4, 5 would cause, not solve, problems

Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Residence: 335 E. Bayview, Homer, AK 99603

Mail address: P.O. Box 150 Homer, AK 99603

Contacts: 235-8932

Age: 62

Years in Homer: N/A

Family: Four children

Occupation: Self-employed construction contractor

Education: High school graduate

Previous elected office: Homer Planning Commission (1997-2004), Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission (2000-04), Kachemak Bay Advisory Planning Commission (2002)

Organizations: Kachemak Bay Broadcasting, Homer Senior Citizens Center, American Planning Association, American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, International Association of Plumbing Officials

1. Do you support Propositions 1, 2 and 3? Why?

Prop 1 is a bed tax targeting visitors but returning little to the visitor industry. Bed tax is a traditional way for communities to finance tourism promotion and facilities. A bed tax should be for local projects, not for the Borough general fund. I will vote No.

Prop 2 is for Central Emergency Service Area Bonds. It will not effect District 8.

Prop 3 is advisory on the Funny River Bridge. 3A asks if the state should construct the Bridge. This should clearly be a state project. There are questions of siting and habitat that should be answered before the borough takes a position. 3B asks if the borough should contribute funds or services to the project. This is an open-ended question and there is no way to tell what it would cost. Without well defined limits, I do not support Prop 3B.

2. Do you support Propositions 4 and 5? Why?

Prop 4 is a bold attempt to limit our ability to efficiently conduct the business of the people. It requires election approval from a 60 percent super-majority for modest expenditures, including pass through money from the state. It will cause needless delays, increase government cost and escalate construction costs. Most unfairly, it institutes a type of minority rule. Prop 4 is a problem, not a solution.

Prop 5 is similar in instituting minority rule and stopping elected officials from doing their job of managing our business. This initiative could plunge our school system into crisis and increase property taxes. The assembly should have gone to voters with the sales tax increase, but Prop 5 isn't the answer. If elected, I will propose to the assembly a new approach to sales tax.

Prop 4 increases cost and Prop 5 increases property tax. I will be voting no on Props 4 and 5.

3. Should the borough consider assuming new or expanding existing powers? Why?

The Kenai Peninsula Borough could acquire some areawide powers like animal control and police powers by becoming a first class borough. At this time the borough does not exercise all the powers available to a second class borough. There seems to be little need to move to beyond the powers available to us until the population fills in more and the constraints of a second class borough become too limiting. We do have zoning powers and the use of service areas which are adequate to fill our present needs. We need to come closer to our present limits before we grow our borough government any larger.

4. What actions would you recommend if faced with declining borough revenues, increased expenses and a fund balance that is near its recommended lower limit?

All borough sales tax is dedicated to our school system. If Prop 5 passes there will be a large shortfall in the funds normally available for our schools. I recommend that we vote no on Prop. 5. It would institute a law giving taxing control to 41 percent of the voters. This would mean that a minority of voters could dictate tax policy. The large shortfall projected if Prop 5 passes would be felt in all aspects of borough government. It is likely that property taxes would need to increase and that popular services would be cut. The schools would suffer along with other programs. We should always look for ways to become more efficient and during budget time we should step back and consider the value vs benefit of whole systems. We should always be open to a fresh approach. Prop 5 is not the right answer to our budget problems.

5. What makes you the best candidate for the job?

The voters will have the job of deciding who is best. I ask that they carefully consider my knowledge of the issues and balanced approach to finding good solutions for public concerns. In my years on various commissions and committees I have come to appreciate that there is most always truth on both sides of an argument, and the best solutions consider the interests of all parties.

In an 8 year period of being on City Committees, the Borough Planning Commission and the Homer Planning Commission, I dealt with a broad range of issues, including Borough land classification, land sales, gravel pits, watershed protection, zoning, subdivision platting, appeals, Kenai River protection, CIP lists, comprehensive plans, water and sewer expansion, habitat protection, wetlands policy, and many others. This has given a broad perspective with which to view Borough issues.

6. What do you see as the important issues in your district and what will you do about them on the assembly?

Controlling Borough expenses and fair tax policy are important to all districts. I will introduce a new direction for sales tax policy to address the sales tax increase and the bed tax, and it will go before the voters.

It is important the we receive full Borough cooperation in the Hospital expansion project.

Our senior facilities should continue to be low cost and not subject to property tax.

All Borough residents who are distant from Soldotna need easy access to meetings of the Assembly.

I will work on a system to bring the Assembly to the internet with audio and video, and for good measure, the ability for all residents to be interactive via the web and teleconference.

More local control of platting is important here and I have a plan to streamline subdivision platting and decentralize platting decisions. We can save money and time with this plan.

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