BED TAX – public hearing on 07/01 KPB Assembly Agenda

At the June 17 meeting of the KPB Assembly it was decided to have two public hearing opportunities  on the issue of a KPB Bed Tax.  It was also decided at that time to put on the October General Borough ballot the issue of instituting this bed tax.  I am somewhat confused the purpose of creating this bed tax; but may have come to the conclusion this was done, or expected to be done, by the Assembly because – THEY CAN.

On the 17th of June there were several members of the public who came forth to offer testimony on this issue.  There have been several opportunities for me to be part of a discussion among local taxpayers on the need and wisdom of this tax increase effort.

There are several point of interest that may make discussion easier, or may make easier the formulation of words for someone to relate to the Assembly in public hearing on either the 1st of July or the 15th of July.

The following are several point for discussion or questions which I struggle to answer:

– the need at this time to create additional tax in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.  The clearly most obvious reason for this unnecessarily effort is the quickly dwindling number of meetings at which it will be possible for Bill Smith to further the left leanings of the assembly;

– the next most obvious reason for creating this tax is – because they can;

But I digress, let me supply some more factual information for discussion:

– the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council (KPTMC) operates on a budget of just slightly less that $1M.  Making up this part of the $1M is an almost routine amount of $300k.  Somewhere in the inter workings of the KPB Assembly it was determined the periodic struggle on whether to fund non governement agencies (NGO) was so great; and the need on the operating budget for the marketing of the Kenai Peninsula was so huge, particularly to reach international travelers that the idea of the Bed Tax raised its head again.

– it was decided at the July 17 KPB Assembly meeting that the amount of the bed tax would be 4%.  One factor in the determination of this amount was Seward’s tax of 4%, so that must be a reasonable amount of tax to charge.  A bed tax of 4% would generate funds in an amount in excess of $2.2M (that is million). Since the taxpayers of the KPB have been supplying $300K to the KPMTC and the tax rate of 4% seemed fair; it was quickly determined that the Bed Tax at the rate equal to Seward would provide funds well in excess of the current needs of KPTMC.

– so the equitable thing to do would be to provide a proportionate kickback to the cities since if they chose to participate they would be benefiting and could at the same time help the tax promotion;

 

 

 

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KPB Assembly Meeting June 17

Another interesting meeting of the local KPB assembly. There were a few critical issues before the assembly, a couple of which were addressed here earlier today.

One of those issues was reducing the percentage of votes required for increasing the sale tax cap. There was considerable discussion about the importance of the voice of the voters and the eager willingness of the Assembly to hurry right in and subvert the voice of the people. The majority of the assembly was unwilling to believe there were reasons to wait to make this move. The usual liberal ideas of gathering up the tax dollars whether there is actually a current need for the tax dollars.

Another issue taken up was the assembly voting by mail. After much discussion about
– how it would work;
– how much it would cost;
– various scenarios that might facilitate fraud;
– why borough voting cannot be coordinated with city and state voting to facilitate savings;

It was finally decided to postpone the further discussion and voting to the July 1 meeting and work toward a advisory vote by the people to make preparations for voting by mail.

The next issue up for discussion was putting bed tax onto the ballot for decision by the voter (that the assembly cannot later overturn to their own liking).

By a 8 yes and 1 no vote, the assembly established two public hearings were set for July 1 and July 22. The more discussion that was had the more that was learned by the assembly and ultimately before the voters.

Charles Pierce made a good suggestion to put together a tax task force. He mentioned where do the taxes stop. There needs to be a vision for few taxes for all of the people of the borough. Taxes are an evil process. Just say no when it comes to taxes.

Charles Pierce is so right. We need more people who think like Charlie when it comes to adding tax to the tax payer. Tom Bearup is that person for Borough Mayor. All government is local and tonight Assembly meeting was an example of that.

UPDATE MONDAY – meeting notes JUNE 16

In spite of the threat of an electrical outage, we had a great smallish meeting to review the KPB assembly agenda for tomorrow evening at 6 pm.

The two significant issues that will be voted on tomorrow evening at the KPB assembly meeting are changing the required percentage of supporting public votes from 60% back to 50% of the ballots submitted for raising taxes; and whether to do our assembly voting by mail.

Both of these questions need to be understood and considered by the voters. It was in 2002 that the voters participated in deciding how much percentage of the vote was required to raise taxes. Usually the assembly members wait the required 2 years and a day before they are right back pushing for their own way; like reducing the percentage of votes from 60% back to 51% to raise the amount of taxes.

The second issue is voting by mail. This issue will not be on the ballot, it will be decided by a vote of the assembly members. There will be increased cost to the taxpayer for this change, about $50,000.00. And if the issue of voter fraud comes to mind, it should be noted that the farther the vote from any overseers the greater the chance of voter fraud!!

Now is not the time to be changing voting procedures or the amount of public input in a raise in taxes. There is enough fear and trepidation in the country today without adding to it with these kinds of changes.

Culvert costs/overruns

Currently, as you may or may not be aware Beaver Loop is closed due to a culvert replacement being done by the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF). This is a fairly large project, not unlike replacement of the culvert under Kenai Spur Highway (KSH). I recall that work being done and the extent of the construction efforts. I do not recall however, how long that project took. I also do not know whether the contractor doing Beaver Loop is the same as the earlier project on KSH.

I did not realized until I read it online the Beaver Loop project is a KWF project. I inaccurately assumed since the State of Alaska is making plans to upgrade Beaver Loop, the state was doing this work; actually I thought this project had to do with water main piping, not just a culvert.

All that being said I read yesterday in a couple of places online that this Beaver Loop project would be done “soon” (Robert Ruffner); or “a few weeks” (Rick Cook); or as learned today, they are not sure when!! The foreman did tell me they have removed the expected completion dates from the reader signs.

The original time frame was 5/21 – 6/11. Now there is no completion date. Now the first thing that comes to my mind is not fishing traffic (Rick Cook), but the cost overruns for all the additional time, particularly the labor. So I ask the foreman about this!

He explained there would be no cost over runs; he would have to eat it himself. I replied, “What you have no contract with the government?” He said his contract for a set amount with KWF.

Now the structural and logistical explanations given in the online interviews for the delay did not reassure me regarding an expected completion date; the expected completion date only concerns because there will be the expectation to recoup those overrun costs.

From where will KWF expect to recoup those funds? The city – because the city water main is included in the project and Cook has oversight, “addressing pubic concerns” input. The state- because the road is currently the responsibility of the state, and they have limited funds for the upcoming upgrade. The borough or federal government – because most of KFW funds are grants from government agencies; or because KWF and KPB are funding buddies?

I think this is a legitimate question!

Combined Election Districts 29/30 meeting

Friday evening, June 13, Election Districts 29 and 30 met to discuss the status of campaigns here on the Peninsula and what is happening in the two Election District.   It was a well attended meeting, many issues were discussed and much was resolved particularly around some housekeeping matters like paying some obligation from past meetings, firming up booth appearances in the coming weeks.  We also discussed certain events and activities that will need some volunteer help.  We discussed events currently on the calendar coming up over the next week.

Toward the end of the time together we schedule a time to meet again as the combined districts and we scheduled time to meet to discuss strategy efforts before the Primary. It is evident we will need volunteers to help with many different project.

Would you, or someone you know, that is interested in seeing things change, be interested in helping out with various projects. We will planning to meet again for discussion along these lines on June 22. Please join us or pass on the information to people you think might be interested.

Continue reading

Election District 29 and 30

Election District 29 (part of Soldotna, Sterling, Nikiski and Seward) and District 30 (the City of Kenai from out near Wildwood and down KSH toward Soldotna and along Kalifornsky Beach Road) wll meet tonight at 6 p.m. at Paradisos Resturant in Kenai to get updated on where we are in the election season before the August primary.

This is the place where people can get involved.  We are all interested in, or we talk alot about, how unhappy we are with things in the local, state and national government. Well, this is the place to get involved. First we have to learn about how things work, how each of us fit in and what exactly needs to be done.  After taking advantage of the previous work done by others, it is pretty easy to step into some aspect of help making a change. 

Now there is a cost; however the good thing is – it is not a huge cost and it is not a truly signifcant cost when you compare that cost to the price that was paid to orignally set up the liberties we currently enjoy or the cost paid each year by young men who fight and give their lives for the liberties we are discussing.

So come out and learn some of what is happening.

Beginning Again

I had started a blog on another site; but when I came back it was gone. I really think a local blog is very important.  We do not have one here on the Kenai Peninsula and there are many items of news that I think would be of interest to people. 

As a more than moderately active voter on the Kenai Peninsula, I am interested in seeing more people become informed voters and getting out to vote. Therefore, because this is a critical year for elections to The United States Congress and the United States Senate, especially for the State of Alaska; this blog is the next natural step.