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Don’t blame the seniors

Posted: March 5, 2014 - 4:49pm

In Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s announcement to run for re-election he made several statements that are  audacious at best and surely deflecting  poor management by the borough, under the guise of “it’s the seniors’ fault” that KPB service areas are in need of additional funding.

From the mayor: “Seniors use emergency services more than any other group, but they’re exempt from paying for them. He said if he doesn’t evaluate that area of the budget, the burden is going to shift to other demographics.”  In other words: It’s the seniors’ fault.

Another slap at seniors or poor political advice?  Either way it is an odd way to start a political campaign.

Let’s set the record straight with facts versus political rhetoric.

Fact: Seniors (65 plus) are covered by Medicare.

Fact: Medicare pays for medically necessary transport to hospitals or emergency care facilities when billed.

The mayor can simply direct the borough finance department to bill Medicare for the emergency services. It is not difficult and will reduce the service area tax burden on all residents. If Mayor Navarre is not comfortable doing this on his own, I am quite sure the assembly would support him on the issue. It does not need a department or a committee, just a directive to the borough finance director.

In addition, Medicaid pays for medically necessary transport to hospitals or emergency care facilities when billed. Most health insurance policies pay for medically necessary transport and now that we have Obamacare, by law, everyone must have insurance.

Fact: The borough can bill for all emergency services and reduce the overall tax burden on all residents.

There are only two reasons for not billing: poor management and financial malfeasance.

Mr. Mayor, the first reaction should not be blame seniors, blame residents and raise taxes. You have the reins of leadership and can fix the perceived problem with your pen.

Manage finances, reduce taxes and reduce rhetoric. 

Now, in addition to seniors, the blame for budget shortfalls is also being put on KPB residents voting to raise the residential tax exemption to $50,000. 

The KPB is not losing revenue, the residents voted to keep their own money. The $1.5 million the borough will use to offset the exemption raise is not excess revenue, it is excess collection of taxes from residents. It is not the mayor’s or the borough’s money — it is excess tax collected from borough residents. KPB residents voted to reduce their taxes and keep their hard-earned money. Budgets reflect future spending projections — propose less and spend less.  It is not magic, it is management.

Fact: It is the job of the mayor and the borough to manage borough finances and to support and honor the will of the people. 

The will of the people is clear. Embrace it, support it and move forward. Additional comments can be found at KPBSeniors.com.

Peter Zuyus

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kearbear 03/06/14 - 03:41 pm
Senior exemption

The State mandates that all boroughs exempt the first $150,000 of assessed valuations for Seniors. The people residing in the KPB voted to increase the personal exemption from the original $20 thousand to the current $50 thousand. All resident property owners, regardless of age, qualify for this exemption. There are four boroughs that have unlimited exemptions for Senior resident property owners. (Aleutians East, Denali, North West Arctic, North Slope).

Senior exemptions are a temporary exemption. It cannot be claimed until the resident property owner is 65 years old. When the Senior passes away, or sells the property, full tax rates resume on the property. Lifespan after 65 is totally unknown depending on the overall health problems suffered by Seniors. The intent of the Senior exemption is to attract Seniors to continue to live in Alaska and spend their retirement funds in Alaska. Many Seniors take out reverse mortgages to supplement their SS and spend their entire estates in Alaska before passing away. This benefits Alaska small business with millions of dollars of spending in Alaskan communities. A solid customer base.

Most Seniors are not driving drunk, driving recklessly, running meth labs, running illicit pot farms, acquiring STD's, getting in bar fights, victimizing their spouses with domestic abuse and neglect. Emergency services respond to all calls and people involved in these calls usually have no insurance or ability to pay. Seniors over 65 are covered by Medicare and Medicare pays for ambulatory response calls. Start billing for services rendered. Bill everyone whether they are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Private Insurance, Self Insured or uninsured.

ptzsr1 03/06/14 - 02:01 pm
update to service areas

Several service areas do bill or have the right to bill for certain services.

Nikiski has the right to bill for ambulance, not fire.

Bear Creek has the right to bill for Rescue-- However, $0.00 in revenue.

Anchor Point does no billing.

CES has right to bill ambulance, not fire.

N. Peninsula does no billing.

Seldovia does no billing.

A universal billing plan for ambulance and fire will contribute revenue without the need to increase taxes.

Fire equipment, buildings and training are mostly funded by State and Federal grants.

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