What part of temporary don't you understand?

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, August 07, 2006

An Aug. 1 article read: "A five-year extension of the temporary tax, which city officials say is vital to the city's schools and day-to-day operations, will appear on the Oct. 3 ballot. Area-wide Assembly member Johan Dybdahl said he thinks voters should seriously consider extending the tax if they don't want to feel a pinch on city services. 'There has been a huge reliance on that 3 percent,' he said. 'If they were not to approve it, I think the burden would shift to property owners.'"

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The phrase that catches my eye in this passage is, "'There has been a huge reliance on that 3 percent. ... If they were not to approve it, I think the burden would shift to property owners.'" This sentiment was echoed in a previous article a week previously. In a sense the Assembly is extorting the 3 percent from the public. "If you don't pass this extension, we'll have to raise your property taxes."

What else raises an eyebrow in this passage is the phrase "which city officials say is vital to the city's schools and day-to-day operations." What kind of city government relies on temporary taxes, for day-to-day operations? During each election there is a provision for a temporary tax to build useful things such as a police station, parking garages, sewer upgrades, in other words, a precise purpose and a precise amount needed to do the job, and are approved, and rightly so. Not to be used for day-to-day government expenditures.

And with every election, the voters pass the extension, stacking one "temporary tax" upon another, which of course is the reason for the 5 percent sales tax. Well it's only temporary, and then it will go away. Wrong.

A new situation arises (in this case nothing but apparently day-to-day operations) and suddenly we need another temporary tax, and if the people don't approve it, the city will keep putting it on the ballot till it's passed or it will raise property taxes. Or more than likely raise property taxes and extend the temporary taxes.

Excuse me, but just what part of temporary don't you guys understand?

John Webb

Juneau



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