05/15/17 Update Monday

05/16/17 Tonight’s KPB Assembly agenda discussion included:

1 – property assessment dollar amounts.

2 – an increase in the mill rate of the taxes on those properties;

3 – swapping with a local property owner of parcels of land benefiting both parties;

4 – the construction of a school at Kachmack-Selo and how that would work considering the number of students in the school, the condition of the current school and the current ownership situation;

5 – how to pay for a corridor service area along the Sterling Highway to the Seward  turn off.

The property assessments by KPB has increased the value of property here in the KPB by approximately $425M.

One of the items on the KPB agenda tomorrow night will a request for funds to hire legal staff to assist the KPB assessing department to defend the above mentioned increased assessment.

The possible increase of KPB property taxes by half a mill on those recently assessed properties will certainly generate a lot of money to the KPB. More than likely the sell for the increase in the mill levy in these properties will be the threat of reduced funds from the State of Alaska. It will likely also be outlined by the borough mayor how important it is to be prepared for the shortfall that is sure to come.

At the last KPB assembly meeting, an amendment was made to the budget of the KPB school district. This amendment would reduce the amount of funds from KPB asssembly for the school by amount $1M. This reduction was in light of the consideration that the State of Alaska and the KPB have not finalized their own budgets. Every year it is expected that the State and the KPB will have the details available for finalizing their budgets before the schools brings this budget for funding approval.

 The land swap benefitted the KPB by providing land access to the property and the other party access to the beach.  A equitable swap and to the benefit of both parties.

The construction of a school at Kachemack-Self was discussed for the editification of a guest to our group.  As Wayne Ogle will be traveling to the area on Thursday, we will have more of an idea on that situation at the June 5 meeting.

Stan Welles provided his recently developed idea on paying for the service area corridor along the Sterling Highway.  Stan explained the amount of money expected to be needed for the service area is almost exactly the same as the funds for KPTMC, a non government agency funded by the borough.  Since the funding of NGO is a continual bond of contention, it was considered a valid suggestion. The funding for this project, this service area, is expected to be moved around from Federal PELT (payment in lieu of taxes) funds.  This project has become an issue from the health case task force and is pending until the state legislature finalizes authority to do this.

 

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October 2015

The KPB October 2015 elections are over and there is ahead of us the elections of 2016.  There are plenty of considerations ahead; one of them, is the look back on our effort in the October 6 voting.

On October 13, UPDATE MONDAY reviewed the agenda for the 10/14 KPB assembly meeting; and looked back on the most recent election and our successes and failures.

The issues discussed on the agenda included:

  • MORE money to the hospital,
  • the property exchange over on K-Beach and involving the flooding of recent years past;

Discussion then turned to how the KPB elections went  – positive and negative.    We discussed some areas where things could have gone better:

  • Too short a time before the end of the candidate registration period to get in gear finding a candidate;
  • No complete campaign picture planned;
  • Too much time absent from area during campaign timeframe
  • Perhaps not enough money, have to consider that further;
  • A viable option for a combined unity among our group, what that includes;

October also includes a re ignite of political parties looking toward 2016 activities preparing for the 2016 elections in November.  The local area districts 29 and 30 met this week for just those purposes and the following were discussed:

  • Presidential Preference Poll (PPP) (March 1);
  • District convention (s) (March 5);
  • State Conventions (March 28);

Without a quorum present and unable to make any decisions, some of the issues and committees around these events were discussed and appointments made.

Some discussion included how many and where the PPP locations would be, and who would be heading that up;   district convention would be joint between District 29 and 30; and delegates identified at District Convention for State Convention as well as fees paid up front.

CURRENT KPB ADMINISTRATION AND VOTER CONCERNS

 

I learned today at the Industry Day event talking to liberal democrat voters that in spite of the exemplary and fantastic resume of Mike Navarre, they were unaware the current administration activities with regard:

  • to the transfer agreement between the Kenai Surgical Center and the Central Peninsula Hospital; and
  • to the attempt to raise taxes in the amount of $2.4M without a definite plan for the use of this money.

The several people that I talked to that are/were committed liberal voters did not understand that part of the current mayor’s resume is his association with the local hospital and how influence can currently be exerted.  One of these persons ask explicitly how this can be done if the hospital is owned by the community.  It took a few minutes to explain what a small amount of research can turn up.  Several times I had discussions with interested voters on how the failure of the hospital to work with the community in this transfer agreement did not serve the members of the community, but served the profit-driven bottom line of the hospital. It was also necessary to explain that this position of (1)  the bottom line over the medical care needs of the peninsula was the position of the current administration.

It needs to be understood with regard to this transfer agreement that without this agreement the Kenai Surgical Center cannot provide services to Tricare, Medicaid or Medicare patients.  Now the availability of services and the cost of those services may not be of critical interest to everyone, but these issues are of critical interest to the people who need the service (with and without insurance), and are interested in getting the best service for the amount of money spent.  To these people it would of critical interest that the Central Peninsula Hospital (2) charges almost exactly twice the amount of the surgical center and this excessive charge is not necessary, not necessary at all.

The purpose of this reluctance to work with the community is unclear because as soon as more people realize how this hospital is operating, there will be less and less requirement for their services as more and more people will (3) go to Anchorage for the service they need, at a cost they can afford.  How exactly does that support our community, as more and more medical care funds and associated lodging costs are transferred to Anchorage? This was another conversation that came up with cost conscious voters.

It should be stated as well, that along with the failure to work with the community on a transfer agreement with the Kenai Surgical Center, the Hospital is busy buying up various competing services here on the Peninsula; a continuing effort to (4) expand on the current monopoly we call a hospital.

The second issue found interesting to numerous voters was the effort to request voters to approve a bed tax that would generate $2.4M and not having a specific plan for the use of that much money.  The voters quickly appreciated the fact that the bed tax went no where, but the mere fact that this came very close to a public vote and the plan for use of this amount of collected tax dollars was unclear right up to the end of the bed tax discussion concerned many of those voters.

 

UPDATE MONDAY – meeting notes JULY 21

MONDAY  July 21

Meeting last night about 12 people contributed to discussion of four issues that will be presented on the KPB Assembly Agenda TONIGHT,  Tuesday,  July 22.  It was a lively discussion well supported by documented facts.

The FIRST ISSUE Ordinance 2014 – 25 – discussed was the Bed Tax (to go on ballot)  subject to voter approval for final decision.  The issue is charging a 4% tax for transient room and other tourism rentals here on the peninsula.   Seward already has a 4%  bed tax and it appears that percentage seemed acceptable to the KPB assemblyman Mr. Bill Smith (Homer) when he brought the ordinance up to the group.

However, there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This is funding for KPTMC for which no accountability has been made available;
  • This tax will likely be paid by Alaska residents, perhaps other than Peninsula residents, but Alaska tax payers all the same;
  • As with all taxes this one will likely only increase and never go away;
  • This tax is basically an effort to push the fear of scarcity button, without full knowledge of whether there will budget shortfalls in the future. or opportunities to reduce spending;
  • While an opportunity to create progressive legacy for Mr. Smith (Homer); there are other options for covering the $300K already provided to KPTMC;
  • This increase to the sales tax limit needs to be taken into consideration

The SECOND ISSUE (Ordinance 2014 – 20, AMENDING code; Resolution 2014-44) for ADVISORY from VOTERS)  discussed was the Vote by Mail.  The idea here is this will bring an increase in voter turn out.

However, there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance

  • This will create an increase in the cost generally of voting in the borough;
  • This change in voter procedures creates the opportunity for voter fraud that has not been an issue here on the Peninsula, why create that opportunity now;
  • Going to the polls for voting is the very least we “uninformed couch potatoes” can do in return for this privilege that has been purchased at the cost of life itself;

The THIRD ISSUE (Ordinance 2014 – 24  AMENDING to eliminate)  involves  the idea that it is exceedingly difficult to find someone to write the opposition statement on initiative or referendums on the ballot.

However there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This section of the voter pamphlet could be the extent of the research that is done by some voters;
  • These statements provide an opportunity for well thought out information that had not been considered by voters;
  • In my humble opinion, and a position heard in the community, is it is not so difficult to get a statement in support of pro or con as has been offered by the sponsor of this legislation.

The FOURTH ISSUED (Resolution 2014 – 48 modifying mill rate of 2014-45) discussion briefly dealt with the creation/funding of an animal rescue outside certain incorporated cities;

However there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This is a tax to be added to the property tax on the first $150,000.00 of property value in the areas outside certain incorporated cities, and will not affect those cities already providing animal services;
  • In my humble opinion, people should not have animals if they are not knowledgeable about how to care for them, either animals small or large;
  • There has been insufficient research done on the subject to determine whether this is  a good fit for the Kenai Peninsula; and without that research this tax collection is an exercise in legislative malpractice;
  • If there is interest among animal owners to have such a service, this should come from those property owners who will be paying, not from a member of the Assembly initiating anther tax on the community.

 

All of above is simply an indication that everyone needs to be involved in the operation of good government.   If each of you has not noticed, there has been a considerable change in the core values of our culture and that includes the Kenai Peninsula.  If you are interested in helping out with something so simple as:

  •  making input to the KPB Assembly use this information and come to the Borough meeting TONIGHT Tuesday, July 22;
  • writing a letter to one of the Assembly Members, or
  • running yourself as a candidate or appointment to any part of the local government, please come to the  UPDATE MONDAY meeting the night before the assembly meetings and LEARN MORE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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;

 

 

 

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.