Letters to the Editor
An irresistible source of borough revenue
To the Editor:
I find it inconceivable that anyone in Petersburg would even consider voting “yes” for the borough petition which gives the Borough Assembly the power to levy personal property tax without a vote (page 4, subsection 11-B). This would include taxing cars and private and commercial boats.
Because fishing is so vital to the local economy many believe that the possibility of personal property tax on boats is very remote. But how remote is it when borough costs are projected to exceed the revenue gained by forming the borough? Where will the money come from to sustain borough operations, personnel, and build the new infrastructure it will require? This burden can be placed solely on the back of homeowners for only so long.
Under the right circumstances the deep pockets of the commercial fleet will prove to be an irresistible source of revenue. The right circumstances are already here and will intensify in the future as previously available external sources of additional funding dry up. The enormity of the federal debt means that state and local governments will be on their own in the future regardless which party wins in November. We are rapidly becoming like Greece. There are just too many bankrupt and near bankrupt cities, states, private and government pension funds, banks, etc. to naively believe that the Petersburg Borough will be at the head of the line for shrinking state and federal funds.
In addition to this debt problem, the consensus of opinion from the smart independent analysts is that the U.S. economy will stagnate for at least another decade. The economic downturn we now see is structural, not transient because of changing demographics, technology requiring fewer workers, and simply fewer remaining good jobs, which have not been exported yet.
In this economic setting, once you create a borough you will own it or more specifically, it will own you because it can levy taxes without your vote. It will make sure that it is well fed on more and new taxes.
I just don’t understand what the benefits are of a borough that would make voters choose to risk a chunk of everything that they have worked for: house, cars, boat, business. The smart move for Petersburg voters would be to reject a borough and do the opposite, downsize city government and make it more efficient so that it can weather bleak economic conditions without sapping the financial resources of its residents and draining the base of the local economy, commercial fishing.
Andreas F. Grauel
24 hour crisis hotline
To the Editor:
As October kicks off National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, WAVE would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank the Petersburg Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation, for supporting our organization as a grant recipient this year. Through the Foundation grant, WAVE has been able to upgrade its 24 hour crisis hotline answering service to a professional level, where calls are answered in complete anonymity and confidentiality, then relayed to a trained advocate here in Petersburg who can immediately provide assistance to the caller.
The effects of sexual assault and domestic violence in Petersburg are felt throughout our community by our health care providers, our police force, our court system, teachers and counselors, and ministers. But the greatest impact is felt by the victims themselves, and their family and friends. Each of us can help end abuse and violence by supporting victims, holding batterers accountable for their actions, teaching our children non-violence, and getting involved. If you or someone you know is a victim of violence, please call WAVE or drop by our office. Office: 907-650-7123 / Crisis Hotline: 907-518-0555.
Rural Services Coordinator
WAVE – Working Against Violence for Everyone
Borough = more funding for school
To the Editor:
A while back opponents of the borough sent out a letter from a former principal claiming that if the borough passed, then the State would reduce school funding so that Petersburg schools would not receive any additional funding. That statement is in error. SB 182 section 3 of the 2012 legislation provides that the required contribution for schools is reduced from 4 mills to 2.65 mills. Previously AS 14.17.510(c) had a limitation on the increase in property value to one half of the increase for the 4 mill tax, but section 8 of SB 182 repealed that statute. So the increase in assessed property because of the formation of a borough will result in more funding for the school.
City misleading to get vote?
To the Editor:
I like many Petersburg residents and residents of the outlying areas listened to the 1 October 2012 Council meeting on KFSK radio. The topic of the proposed borough was included in the agenda under old business. When the borough topic came up, the mayor asked the city manager how many people would the borough have to hire to properly administer the new responsibilities. The city manager responded that there would be no need to hire anyone. The current city staff can handle all of the borough administration responsibilities.
I find the city manager’s answer quite amazing. I do realize that the borough petition clearly states that the new borough would do essentially nothing to support the 9,700% increase in area. However, the new borough government will have to collect taxes, manage the planning and zoning function, issue building permits, insure code compliance, resolve variance requests, and many other issues that come with the responsibilities of managing a borough.
If we look at the new Wrangell City and Borough, which is very similar to the Petersburg borough, they hired 29 new employees. If the city manager is correct that the Petersburg borough will require no new employees, the only logical explanation is that the current City is overstaffed. I doubt that any of the current City employees would agree that they are not currently working at full capacity and have adequate spare time to help with the new borough responsibilities.
Is it just one more time where the City is misleading their citizens and those of the proposed borough just so they will vote for the borough?
City of Kupreanof
Thanks to RAC
To the Editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank a handful of people that helped secure a Forest Service grant. Paul Anderson initially came up with the idea to use RAC (Resource Advisory Committee) funds to purchase a CNC (computer numerical controlled) router, table saw, and planer for the high school shop. Part of Paul’s idea was that the shop classes would then make the Forest Service any signs that are needed in the Petersburg Ranger District. After hearing about Paul’s idea, I wrote up a proposal and then Paul presented the proposal to the RAC committee. The RAC committee approved the proposal and the school district then moved forward into working on the grant paperwork. Karen Quitslund, the business director of the school district put in a lot of time and work on all of the grant paperwork. Thanks to Paul’s vision and Karen’s work, the equipment has now been ordered and will soon be up and running. Jason Anderson, the Forest Ranger was also very helpful and supportive of the grant. The CNC router will give students the opportunity to make intricate, precise, and beautiful looking signs and projects. Students will first design the signs with a modern software program. The designs will then be downloaded to the CNC router. The machine will then accurately rout out the signs at an amazing speed. This type of technology will give students the capability to integrate modern machining technology into woodworking and metalworking. This new equipment will give high school students a unique opportunity to make professional looking signs that will be displayed all around town. I am very thankful for this grant and all of the new and exciting equipment that it will bring into our students’ education. Thanks again to everyone who put in time and effort into this grant, your efforts have made a definite and positive impact on our students and our community.
PHS Shop Teacher