State sources of information
Once again, incorrect information was cited to justify opposition to the formation of a Petersburg Borough. Tom Reinarts wrote in a published letter that Wrangell’s borough government had added 29 employees since its formation. In two letters in this week’s Pilot, both Reinarts and Wrangell’s Borough Manager correct the information stated in last week’s letters column.
In September, letter writer George Cole apologized for an error where he stated the Petersburg Borough could raise sales taxes without a vote of the people.
The Pilot has a fairly liberal policy when it comes to letters to the editor. Opinion pieces are granted significant leeway concerning discussions of public matters.
Factual information, particularly concerning interpretation of borough formation issues, has tipped to the extreme.
We encourage letter writers to cite the sources of information used in letters, to enable us to verify the facts prior to publication.
The difficulty remains, the half-truths.
Several letter writers have, for example, discussed the fact that Petersburg could impose a personal property tax on borough residents. In fact, the City of Petersburg has such powers, but has chosen not to impose such tax on city residents at the present time. This is cited on pages 4 and 5 (Subsection 11-B) of the city’s Petition for Incorporation.
The city’s petition further states that personal property tax income is not used in the city’s financial projections for the formation of the borough.
Letter writers opposing the borough quickly note the city’s power to impose such a tax in the future, but they never mention that their representatives on the new borough assembly (should they be elected to same) would have a voice in that decision.
Therein lies the unvarnished truth of borough formation. Representatives from outside the current city limits will have a voice in the formation of ordinances, resolutions and all matters coming before the school board, hospital board, planning and zoning and the borough assembly after (and if) the borough is formed in December (page 41-42 of Petition for Incorporation).
We have talked to some who look forward to the fiscally conservative viewpoints the borough opponents talk about. Some agree that city government has grown too large and will elect people to work on downsizing both services and infrastructure.
With that in mind, we hope letter writers on both sides of the borough formation will maintain their credibility as they present opinions in print and word in the upcoming weeks prior to the state’s mail-in election beginning on Nov. 26 and running through Dec. 18.