Below are my personal views on two issues on the Oct. 1 ballot, based on my research and my years on both the school board and assembly.
Regarding the $50,000 exemption, this exemption will shift the tax. Let me explain. Yes, it will require 2/10ths of a mill to make up the borough loss, however, that only applies to the general government portion, it does not include the service areas. For south peninsula residents the combined mill increase needed, just to keep revenues the same, would be more than half a mill — for KESA, .16 mills; South Peninsula Hospital, .11; Road Service Area, .06; and the General Government, .19 — for a total of .52. (On the eastern peninsula, Bear Creek Service Area and the Flood Service Area would see an increase of .81 mills.)
Keep in mind the increase will affect all real properties, raw land, business, rental and other commercial properties. They will see a significant tax increase. The property tax exemption increase only applies to residences, not businesses, and only to qualifying residents. It is a tax shift. I do not believe there will be adequate property value increases to cover, especially for the service areas that must allow for increased costs as well. This is an issue each voter must weigh.
About the bond issue. I very, very strongly support this. The borough has close to a billion dollars invested in buildings and school buildings. That investment must be protected. Just as you and I protect our investments in our homes, so too, the borough must act.
There is a limit to the maintenance that can be done on a yearly basis, likewise with our homes. I believe it is the borough’s obligation to the public, who helped pay for these buildings. And don’t I wish, when I replace a 40-year-old roof, that someone would pay 70 percent of it?
It has been suggested by others that the Legislature might not fund it. That the Legislature must appropriate the funds each year is true, but they are obligated to do so every year. The PFD is “subject to appropriation.” It is a constitutional provision.
The Alaska Legislature authorizes the debt reimbursement program and qualifications in statute. The projects included on the bond have all been approved by the Department of Education, as it has statutory oversight. I have known this program since 1982, and can say the Legislature has never failed to fund the debt reimbursement program.
Not only will passage of this bond proposition result in replacing some roofs that are more than 40 years old, but with additional insulation and more modern products, it is estimated the borough will save $250,000 in heating costs per year. To me, this is responsible stewardship of the borough facility assets. And we only pay 30 percent of it.
Please vote yes on ballot Proposition 2.