Superman: Sales tax increase tough but valid decision

Posted: Friday, September 30, 2005

Residence: 48676 Darby Ave., Nikiski

Mail address: P.O. Box 8425, Nikiski, AK 99635

Contacts: 776-844, home; 252-5264, cell

Age: 54

Years in the borough: 31

Family: Wife, Linda, and three children

Occupation: Builder, business owner

Education: High school, three years of college, four-year apprenticeship

Previous elected office: Borough assembly (1989-92 and 2001-present), assembly president (2004-present)

Organizations: Alaska Municipal League Board of Directors, Nikiski Chamber Board of Directors, vice president of Congregation Briat Elohim, Kenai Peninsula Charr President, Alaska state Charr Board of Directors

1. Do you support Proposition 4 and 5? Why?

No. Prop 4 asks to effectively reduce capital project expenditures to $1 million. Currently, the assembly has appropriating authority without a vote of the people to $1.5 million. Prop. 4 includes grant money into the cap and requires a 60-percent voter supermajority to authorize. The authors know these two components will virtually hamstring any pursuit of infrastructure needs. I have seen no verification of abuse in the current system. Philosophically, I believe in the representative democracy, as opposed to direct democracy. With passage, the public will be asked to vote on most projects. Responsible infrastructure development, small and large, is a gift we leave our communities and the next generation.

No on Prop 5. The 1-percent sales tax increase was the fairest, most equitable solution to this springs’ budget shortfall. I was extremely reluctant to place any added burden on homeowners’ property tax bill.

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

No on Proposition 1. If everyone else is doing it, do we have to? Targeted sales taxation can unfairly burden small business and select groups (e.g. B&B’s, small motels, smokers). When we implement these, we increase the reluctance of the populace to accept general sales tax increases. I support general consumption taxes over targeted taxation and homeowner taxation. If the cities wish to implement a bed tax (Seward has) they can do so. (Non-Home Rule jurisdictions will need statutory changes). The Borough should not play the intermediary in redistributing this revenue back to the cities.

Prop 2 is a legitimate bond question for CES area residents. They will make the correct choice.

Yes on Prop 3. Funding issues, maintenance, bridge jurisdiction and location are still of primary concern, but we need to continue pursuing construction of this project.

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

The borough’s level of power is limited by its status as a second-class borough. This has served us well since inception. Our method of expansion has been primarily creation of new service areas and the services they deliver. I realize there will be increased demand for new services as our population continues to grow. Unless we can reverse the state’s inclination to offload their historic funding obligations to municipalities, we will have little choice but to fill the void.

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?

I would stay the course on the actions the Assembly took this spring to balance the budget. As Assembly President, I was integral to the sales tax increase. We have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the borough functioning and solvent. The current mayor forwarded positional cuts through the budget and I supported all, except I voted to keep the Homer KPB office at full time. The general sales tax increase was and will continue to be the least onerous of options available. I acknowledge, and I hope the public will also, that a $7 million cut to the budget will have a destructive and lasting effect on our school district, our seniors (i.e. senior property tax exemption) our road maintenance and solid waste programs. These are crucial to our quality of life. Loss of state revenue has directly and negatively affected KPB taxpayers. Is there a reason for this at $68 per barrel oil?

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

I am the candidate with a thorough grasp on the mechanics of the borough, its problems and its opportunities. I’m a carpenter by trade with deep ties to the working class. Through years of experience, I’ve learned to keep my ears equally open to high level decision makers and wage earners. My perspective is wide and unique. I have no loyalty to political party mechanisms. Their agendas are not always best for borough citizens. I’ve said many times, “There really is no room for partisanship and the borough government level”. I am not and never will be the establishments’ anointed, but I have worked with them and always will.

I have the proven ability to work with the Assembly, move us ahead and address looming issues. This relationship is crucial. I am a team player who analyzes all sides and carries no elite pretense forward in the decision and policy-making process.

6. Describe the Kenai Peninsula Borough as you would like to see it 25 years from now. If elected mayor, what will you do to make that vision a reality?

My children and yet-to-be-born grandkids are enjoying the quality of life that brought me here as a young person. They have the opportunities to make their way on their own in good paying jobs, build homes and families, enjoy the rural lifestyle and recreational activities that abound here.

It will take vision and balance to protect what we have and lead us forward. Our heavy industries must be promoted and advocated for (oil and gas related). A long-term solution to gas supply is essential to our future, As part of the team, I will lead the advocacy of the Spur or Bullet line from the Slope. I will work to ensure the future viability of our commercial fisheries. I will advocate for a new and expanded timber industry. I will continue to acknowledge that tourism is an integral part of our economy now, and primary to certain areas of the borough.

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