Reader: Borough needs to have costs examined

Posted: Monday, October 02, 2006

The Clarion and I must be disappointed. The assembly reconsidered and still did basically the same inane thing on the senior tax exemption. The mayor should veto this administrative mess.

How will this mess be enforced? A borough “Seniors Stoppers” tip program, or a program to require seniors to sign in at the borough every three or four months, or a borough secret police to stake out seniors homes in hopes of catching them gone an extra day. Is there anyone foolish enough to believe an expanded bureaucracy will not be required?

Anyone who thinks the assembly will stop with this bite does not understand government. It is obviously easier to beat up on seniors than other beneficiaries of borough tax breaks.

The Clarion and I disagree on the cap (Clarion Sept. 17). In testimony before the assembly, personal conversations with the authors of the new law and other members of the assembly and e-mails to members, I have argued for a cap of $400,000 because it is fair and it is the easiest to administer. No additional expensive bureaucracy required.

My concern is not for the people who can afford million-plus homes, but for the seniors, now on fixed incomes, who have lived here for years. In good faith they bought homes. In the last six years assessments have gone through the roof — $100k to $150k homes purchased 20 years ago are now being assessed for 3, 4, or $500,000. For this reason a $150k cap is unrealistic, and a $400k cap will still require owners of very expensive homes to pay. The cities should raise their caps for the same reasons.

The recent Clarion poll on the issue reinforced the ugly part of this entire process. Not all supporters of the residency requirement are concerned about lost taxes, but are upset that some seniors leave for the winter months while they must still be here. Remember, when you reach your “golden” years, you are now setting the standards for your own treatment. The next generation is waiting to take over.

If lost taxes were the issue, the assembly should be going after the tax breaks given in the ’90s to owners of airplanes, expensive yachts and commercial boats. Let them pay their share again.

The oil industry is experiencing record profits, so the assembly should take back past tax breaks and give out no new ones. No more giveaways by loading the losses on the backs of seniors.

If revenue is the problem, the assembly could institute a 10-cents-a-gallon tax on all refined fuels shipped from the peninsula. Peninsula residents are currently subsidizing Anchorage and Mat-Su residents through the higher prices we pay for fuels refined here. It is only fair.

It is time for the borough to professionally have all of its revenue streams and operating costs examined. It is especially time for the school board to step up and do the same. This is the surest way to head off taxpayer revolts without making seniors the fall guys.

William Phillips

Kenai



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