Our local assembly has an interesting view of community. I have always thought a community is a place where we all work and play, arguing at times, but helping each other when we're called upon.
In return for our taxes we receive community services: police, the fire department, harbors, airport, schools, roads, sewer, water and recreational opportunities, such as museums and camps. (There remains a puzzle of why these are seen as frivolous trivialities when budget time arrives, but highly touted in brochures urging others to visit our city, but that's for another time.)
Yes, there is the budget crunch faced by all Alaska cities as the state Legislature moves the tax burden over to the towns. But is it a right or honorable thing to create a two-tier society because money is short?
In a time when forward-thinking cities are trying to increase mass transit to cut auto pollution and highway building, our local bus system is under attack. Frankie Pillifant rightly pointed out most of the current bus passengers can't afford other transportation. But that doesn't matter if you have a two-tier system in mind. Too bad many university students are living close to the bone and it's a shame if you work at a minimum-wage job and have to get to work on time, but is it our fault?
The swimming pool, Zach Gordon center and all sorts of summer programs are expensive to run. If fees are raised, many children will not be able to participate, but it doesn't matter. Money will be saved. Perhaps it can be spent on incarcerating poor kids who get into trouble.
The assembly seems to continue its selective poverty; little or no discussion on spending money for tourism studies but no money for the amenities for all citizens, not just for those who can afford them. Does Juneau really want to become a town where only those with money are welcomed into the community?
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