Voters get say on tax

Road out of capital city may also go on ballot

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

This fall's ballot will include a choice for Juneau voters about whether they want to renew two temporary sales taxes.

One -- the 3 percent tax -- now funds city operations. The other -- for 1 percent -- has funded city projects such as the police station and Parks and Recreation programs.

If the 1 percent tax is renewed -- and voters approve separate school bonding and ice rink construction advisory measures -- proceeds would go to Bartlett Regional Hospital expansion, school repair and renovation, and building a Savikko Park ice rink.

The Juneau Assembly passed that sales tax ballot ordinance at its Monday night meeting.

Assembly member Don Etheridge added further to the ballot mix with a surprise request that city staff prepare a ballot advisory vote on a road to Skagway. Etheridge directed that the language of the advisory be straightforward and elicit ``a simple yes or no,'' he said.

Etheridge's request prompted two other members to suggest counter-advisories.

``Isn't Don busy enough?'' a miffed Frankie Pillifant said this morning.

``We've spent two assembly meetings and two luncheons with the Juneau (legislative) delegation to improve access via fast ferries,'' she said. ``This is not a simple question, and it's patently unfair to have it shown in such a simple manner without showing the true costs.''

After hearing Etheridge's direction, Pillifant told staff to consider an advisory measure supporting fast ferries. And assembly member Jim Powell asked that an advisory measure also be considered on an option that includes a road to Cascade Point connecting to a ferry and continuing to Haines and Skagway.

``The (Knowles) administration recently vetoed the $1.5 million to finish the environmental impact statement for the (Skagway) road, saying the community doesn't support the road,'' said assembly member John MacKinnon this morning.

The city should find out what the community does think, he said. ``Do you support the road? Yes or no.''

MacKinnon had protested the proliferation of ballot issues in the past, Pillifant said. ``Here's what rankles me: MacKinnon's been complaining about the number of issues and, all of a sudden, `Sure, let's put it on the ballot.'''

The road and ferry advisory measures are expected to go before the assembly in early August for approval to put on the ballot.

If the separate school bond and ice rink advisory measures don't pass, and the 1 percent sales tax renewal does, proceeds from the tax will go to other projects -- as yet unspecified.

MacKinnon cautioned voters to consider that the proposed ice rink ``is not a full-blown ice arena. It's a rink with a roof over it,'' he said.

Also on the Oct. 3 city ballot will be candidates for assembly and school board, plus an amendment to the city charter changing the calendar for assembly meetings, and a flightseeing noise-control initiative.

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