Vote on Tuesday
Remember to vote on Tuesday, October 2 at the municipal election. Your vote can influence the course of future events in Petersburg from taxes to industrial services for the local fishing fleet.
The only competition for public service positions happens to be for three persons seeking seats on the harbor and ports advisory board.
This year the propositions will be the topics of interest for voters since two of them involve money.
Proposition #1 asks if Petersburg should withdraw from the Inter-Island Ferry Authority. We say yes. The IFA has not served Petersburg since 2008, and likely will not resume service in the near future, so there is little reason to belong to an authority that does not plan to serve this area.
Proposition #2 asks voters to approve an increase in the minimum sales tax exemption rate, which caps sales taxes on purchases of $1,200 or more. That tax exemption will increase to $1,700 and the proceeds will go to the city’s general fund.
Some merchants selling higher end goods have stated the tax exemption could make them less competitive compared to similar purchases made outside the city, but we did not hear significant opposition to the proposition from Petersburg merchants in recent weeks. Since seine boats and tenders make fuel purchases well in excess of the $1200 sales tax cap, they will play a big part in bringing new general fund revenue to the city to replace that which could be used to purchase the Reid waterfront property.
Proposition #3 is the granddaddy of propositions on this year’s ballot.
It asks voters to approve the purchase of waterfront property and a dock owned by the Reid Family Trust for $1.4 million, to expand storage areas used by the commercial fishing fleet. The dock would be used to move bait sheds and other gear from boats to upland storage areas that would be rented to fishermen. Other commodities such as sand and gravel material could efficiently move across the dock and adjoining property. The purchase would be made possible with $250,000 from the city’s property development fund, $200,000 from the city’s general fund, $400,000 from the city’s Economic Fund and a loan not to exceed $550,000 payable from increased harbor moorage and upland storage rates.
The purchase will make it easier to accommodate the growing needs of the Petersburg fishing fleet and ease the growing demands on the city’s downtown crane dock where boats transfer gear and goods throughout the year.
The proposed facility, along with the north boat harbor rebuild and the drive down dock will all make operating a commercial boat in Petersburg a lot easier, and could keep boats in town that might otherwise relocate to ports with better services.
As the fleet grows, so does Petersburg’s economy.
On the opposing side, a significant constituency is feeling what one source cited as, “spending fatigue.” It started with the construction of the city aquatic center and has progressed to the most recent bond issue approval to build the city library.
These two viewpoints will influence the balloting on this proposition.
Make your appearance at the polling station and determine whether Petersburg will continue to support the infrastructure of its major industry or reflect the feelings of fiscal conservatism held by others. The fleet’s success in turning out the vote will determine the fate of Proposition #3.