Freedom on the Last Frontier
To the Editor:
“Daddy, thanks for bringing us all to the cabin for the weekend. I love it here. Seeing the deer and mink on the beach when we set the crab-pot was really cool. What shall I do first? Can Muttley and I play in the woods?”
“Yes, but you have to keep him on his leash now.”
“That’s lame! Well, can we build a brush-fire? And roast hot-dogs? Can I ask the neighbor around the point to have supper with us? I like him; he tells great stories about the old days. Later, can we set off the fireworks we saved from the 4th of July?”
“I didn’t get a burn permit, so the fire is out. The old guy couldn’t pay the taxes on his place so the borough owns it now. I don’t know where the fellow went after they evicted him. Fireworks are illegal inside borough boundaries. You could help me dig out the pond where the water intake hose is; your mom says it’s running pretty slow in the sink. Do we need an Environmental Impact Statement for that? Better not chance it. We could finish the woodshed, but I don’t know if it’s the right distance from the property line. There are so many new regulations.”
“But daddy, WHY? What happened?”
“Honey, there are people who like rules and regulations and the power to tell others how to live. They always want more money to build fancy public buildings and development projects; then there’s upkeep, salaries and pensions for needed new employees, lots of unplanned-for expenses. To get that money they impose sales tax, bed tax, property tax, and sooner or later, a personal property tax.”
“Does that mean they’ll tax my bicycle and our skiff, and Uncle Carl’s fishing boat, and guns and stuff?”
“Well, the borough charter and petition give them the power to do just that. Unfortunately, most people didn’t read those documents before they voted for the borough.”
“Boy, I’ll bet they wish they had...”
A bad dream or an impending reality? It’s up to you. Vote to keep some freedom — please vote NO in December.
Don’t have a vote; don’t want one
To the Editor:
I have to admit that I don’t pay a great deal of attention to Petersburg politics. I don’t listen to Council Corner, nor do I listen to the City Council meetings. I don’t have a vote in local affairs, nor do I want one. I am quite happy being an occasional distant observer of this element of the human comedy. I had to chuckle when a friend told me that a Councilperson said in a recent council meeting, “We need pro borough stuff in the Pilot because we are getting hammered every week.”
Sir, if you didn’t say that, I apologize ahead of time. If you did say that, I wish to point out two facts. 1. The ‘hammering’ you are referring to is just a recitation of simple facts that we are presenting. Incidentally, paid for with our own money. 2. Anything you say is paid for with government money. Government money is tax money taken from the citizens of Petersburg. It is hard for me to buy into what you are saying when you pay for it with other people’s money. Use your own money and then I’ll at least know you are sincere.
We do not want to ‘hammer’ you. We simply want to point out that what you are saying is not necessarily valid in the minds and hearts of the people you are purporting to represent and those you wish to commandeer. I truly believe that the majority of people in Petersburg find your desire to tax us outliers while providing no services is just plain wrong.
Perhaps you should take a cue from the old Peter, Paul and Mary song about hammers. A little bit of love between the brothers and sisters in the form of considering their wants, desires, and ideas might go a long way towards healing the rift that has been created by this ill conceived borough proposal.
Wrangell hiring clarification
To the Editor:
I recently read a letter to the editor provided by a Mr. Tom Reinarts that was printed in the October 4, 2012 edition of the Petersburg Pilot. Because we are neighboring communities I felt it imperative that citizens of Petersburg be provided accurate information regarding a statement made in Mr. Reinarts’ letter.
Mr. Reinarts states that “lf we look at the new Wrangell City and Borough, which is very similar to the Petersburg borough, they hired 29 new employees.” This statement is absolutely false.
The City and Borough of Wrangell was incorporated on May 30, 2008. I started as Borough Manager for Wrangell on September 8, 2009 - about one year and four months after Borough formation. During my tenure in the position, we have hired only one new position and that position is funded solely through project grants and no general fund dollars. All other hiring during my tenure has been the result of personnel turnover in positions that already existed prior to Borough formation.
I have reviewed all hiring prior to my arrival in Wrangell that would have occurred during the May 30, 2008 and September 8, 2009 timeframe. During that period, there was one new police officer position hired as a result of a contract with the State of Alaska for airport security purposes...again a position hired as a result of funding from outside the City and Borough of Wrangell with no general fund dollars being utilized.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at 874-2381 if you have any questions.
To the Editor:
Last week I wrote a Letter to the Editor quoting facts received from the State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development that I did not properly validate. While it is true that the number of municipal employees of the City and Borough of Wrangell grew by 29, it is not correct that the increase was totally due to borough formation. Information from the Manager of the City and Borough of Wrangell is that the real growth is two. One is a police officer funded by a grant. The other is a project manager that is responsible for grant-funded projects. It is not clear what the other 27 are, other than it may relate to part time students that work at the swimming pool.
It was certainly not my intention to be misleading, and I apologize to the readers of the Pilot and all persons concerned with the borough issue for not vetting the information received from the State more carefully before submitting my letter to the Pilot.
City of Kupreanof
Borough and schools
To the Editor:
I noticed that I was referenced in last week’s paper in a letter to the editor from John Hoag. I appreciate Mr. Hoag’s concern for the issue of school funding and borough formation. Last October, I sent a letter to the editor in hopes I could clarify some important facts about how schools are funded in this state. What follows are excerpts from the letter that may help clarify some of the issues addressed by Mr. Hoag.
“If we become a borough our schools won’t automatically get more money, but they will get different money.
(AS 14.17.410) provides for equity for all of our students regardless of the value of their neighborhood, town, village or city property. This formula is based mainly on the number of students in the school. There are multipliers that adjust for school size, for school location, and for the number of special-needs students that attend the school, but in Alaska the funding for schools comes from the number of students in the school, not from the value of the property in the school’s attendance area.”
“Because we have more property in Petersburg, more money will come from Petersburg, and less money from the State to make up the difference. The students won’t get more money, but the city will have to pay more of the share of the cost for the schools and the State will pay less. “
“The Borough of Petersburg has the option of giving more money to schools than the City of Petersburg gave. The additional local contribution can be the equivalent of a 2 mill tax levy on property/personal tax and up to 23% of the district’s basic need.”
These points are copied from the letter I wrote 1 year ago. The difference between when I wrote this letter last year and this year is that now according to AS14.17.510, the city’s mandatory contribution to the schools is 2.65 mills rather than 4 mills. The amount the schools received was the same, the City of Petersburg paid less and the State of Alaska paid more this year. School funding may or may not be an important factor as individuals make their decision about whether or not to form a borough, but I think it’s critical to know all the facts before casting a vote. Especially when we know that however the vote turns out, our little area is going to be changed forever.
The information Mr. Hoag shared presents an important question. Now that the city/borough’s mandatory contribution to the schools is 2.65 mills instead of 4 mills, will the property in the outlying areas only be taxed at 2.65 mills?
We need to have the facts so we can make an informed decision about how to vote. I urge the City of Petersburg to provide factual information because I am still undecided as I am sure many in this community are.
Good for you Petersburg
To the Editor:
Good for you Petersburg. You said “stop spending” to your city council. This is a great step toward cutting government and spending. In fact, you are taking control of your own government, as you should.
The folks who want to spend your tax money on property to benefit some might consider a bake sale or two.