Somehow our local young people need to find the energy and time to understand and say “no” — to the spending habits of city government. It’s become like an adolescent boy that never grows up. It will just keep eating everything and ballooning and then start whining and blaming you when the food is gone.
We’ve grown so accustomed to reading about federal and state government deficit spending that people’s eyes start to glaze over when the talk turns to Homer’s own budget dilemma. As civic leaders ask us for solutions we end up with so many opinions that it’s hard to know where to begin. In the final analysis the cost of government is all about taxes. And if we are smart, taxes should be all about fairness.
The fairness of gas line assessments is a personal perspective. Recently Doug Van Patten wrote a reasonable opinion piece about his heartburn with the issue and he is not alone. Neither is Ken Castner who prevailed in court regarding condo assessment.
When it comes to paying for city services most everyone has a personal opinion about the fairness of it. As chairman of the natural gas commission when the city organized it 5 years ago I have a slightly different take on the fairness of personal opinion.
It’s just overwhelming — the media coverage of how we should vote this fall on the ballot measure to repeal the “new” oil tax. One could simply choose not to listen — admittedly a wise choice — because the strident pros and cons in this debate have tuned out the old-time Alaska mindset that brought us ACES (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share) in the first place.
Some of my best friends are lawyers. Maybe I should know better but I’d like to believe anyone can be rehabilitated. I often suspect their friendship is conditioned on what the law allows, mostly because they are very good at telling you what is legal. They’re usually no better than a fifth-grader in telling you what is right.
As a card-carrying conservative who might well have taken pleasure in last week’s Homer News editorial casting a less than favorable eye on the health insurance package of city employees, I find that I do not. In fact, I see both a lack of appreciation for the pay scale of city employees and an uninformed opinion regarding public sector employment in Alaska.
uring this ongoing debate about
raising food taxes, our city council keeps bringing up the issue of adequate funding for the city’s depreciation reserve accounts. In my opinion it is horribly distorted and here’s why. The entire purpose of a reserve account for equipment and facilities is to fund future repairs and replacement. Homer also has a multi-million dollar reserve account for operations and salaries if tax revenue should drop suddenly. Up until a few years ago we didn’t have a whole lot in these accounts.
Three years ago 60 percent of Homer voters rejected a winter-time sales tax increase on groceries. The whole idea was that the working poor would have one place to spend their money where the city government didn't have its hand out.
Prior to that ballot question, in the fall of 2009, the city attorney was asked his opinion about the legality of the city council ending the food tax exemption "even if the public voted to keep it." In his written letter to the council, he said that according to the Superior Court of Alaska it's not certain whether or not it would be legal.