My Turn: Predictions for 2008

Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I predict for 2008: The city of Juneau's property owners will discover houses are selling for 10 percent below property tax assessments for 2008, at which point 70 percent of the population will contest their taxes and demand it be lowered (I hope).

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Since it is a state requirement that property be assessed at true value, the borough will be forced to raise the mill rate because reducing big-budget projects is out of the question, and the government would have to reduce police and fire protection, as well as increase classroom size, if the mill rate was not increased.

The same building cost estimators will continue to be hired over and over until they get it right, but it won't matter as future bond issues will not be required to have a monetary figure attached since it never works out anyway. In addition, city of Juneau contracts will no longer require penalty clauses but instead will award large bonuses for actually finishing projects as bid.

Juneau will remain the most expensive city to live in Alaska and lose population until transportation improves and we begin living within our means.

Some Assembly members will realize that we can't bond our way into prosperity.

We will have several avalanches in the usual places this year. I can't say for sure when but if we get a lot of snow and it thaws, watch out.

Thunder Mountain High School will cost $10 million more than voters authorized in the 2004 bond issue while the enrollment declines. Sorry, that has already happened. Make that $20 million more.

Someone will suggest we focus on the dropout rate by supporting a good vocational program but this will be shouted down because of the need for more money to send athletes to the Lower 48 to play games. School supporters who promised us equal sports activities for both high schools will ask for more money in the form of a tax increase but after funding schools to the maximum plus $1 million in contributions for a new track, swimming pool and gym, voters will finally say enough.

The amount we were going to save on busing by building a school in the valley will be spent along with much more busing kids between high schools so they can attend classes not available in their school of choice.

After the School Board showed courage by asking the school administration for a budget to go with their request for a $500,000 lunch program, the administration will come back with a budget requesting $750,000. This requirement for accountability will go to the courts as everyone knows "it is for the kids" and should not require accountability.

The School Board will no longer be the last group of people in town to know that TMHS is again behind schedule. The general population will be the last group this time.

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's concern over herring will be used to stop any development in Berners Bay even though the herring have not been declared endangered or even a separate stock. If this fails something else will become endangered.

Once the development of the dock at Cascade Point is totally defeated due to SEACC's concerns, someone will remember that herring spawn in Yankee Cove also.

SEACC will strive to make the Native population understand that agreements only count if current members agree to it.

As jobs and property values decrease in Juneau many of SEACC's members will move south; however, they will continue to send money from Outside where they live and are employed to stop the possibility of any jobs or transportation improvements changing the Alaska they visited or lived in for three or four years.

Those opposing the road to Katzehin Flats from Juneau will for the 15th year running suggest that improving the ferry system is the answer to Juneau's transportation problems despite the fact there is no money for new ferries and the system gets more expensive to ride and maintain each year.

The second crossing of Gastineau Channel will happen right after the "second coming" and then will be in the wrong spot.

I will leave Juneau for six weeks to the "Home for the Chronically Cynical" and return cured, never to write another newspaper column. Nah.

• Tim Whiting is a Juneau resident.

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