Logic says that the 1 percent temporary sales tax revenues should be used first to bolster our economy. Juneau currently has a $5 million-plus deficit that has necessitated the raising of pretty much everyone’s property tax fees and made life precarious for quite a few teachers and City employees. Now I realize that there are probably some hidden rules that preclude one thing being spent on another in this case but when we vote to extend the sales tax why can we not vote to first balance our budget? I would prefer that the property tax never need be raised as long as there is money to be applied. Property tax assessments never go down and always affect landholders, households and renters equally.
Do we really need another public library; the airport has spent millions on expanding the float plane pond that will really not benefit many in the community rather than apply money to meet their the expressed needs; JAHC and Sealaska are asking for a share of the money needed without any guarantee that the balance of the money needed for the completion of their projects will be forthcoming in the near future. I suspect that both facilities will compete with the Centennial Hall Building and the retail shops in the Center will probably operate to the detriment of many current retail establishments downtown who already carry the products of native artists.
I don’t like to be a “cup is half empty” sort of person but when I hear, on the one hand, that the Borough has budget problems and then I read about $45 million in excess money up for grabs it just does not make much sense. The costs of everything practical (food, services, gas, rent and mortgages, etc) is going up, but not wages. Maybe we should consider putting those revenues into a permanent fund that would be used to offset increases in City-provided services and taxes that will secure at least our near future. Why should all of the residents of Juneau bear the increasing burden of operating our government when there are excess funds to be applied to the unfunded needs? Why should 165 people be threatened with losing their jobs and then the community be asked whether or not it wants to build a new library or contribute to a performing arts center? Does anyone see the logic in that, because I sure don’t?
I would also like to point out that all of those structures that would be publicly held would then need to be maintained at a cost to us taxpayers as well the creation of long-term, permanent jobs would be minimal. Everyone has their pet projects and can advocate for them before the city, but what needs to be determined is what is going to meet the needs of most of this community at this time?
• Korpela is a lifelong SE Alaska resident who lives in Juneau.