The purpose and obligation of government is to carry out the will of the people and to provide basic services at a reasonable cost. It is my observation that our local government has gotten completely out of hand.
A few recent observations are as follow:
We voted to cap mileage rates to control property taxes. Local government has circumvented the will of the people by artificially increasing property values. I now live in a house that is assessed at four times what it cost me to build.
Local government presents us with "Santa Claus" bond issues; something for everyone. Few, if any, of these issues would stand alone and survive a vote, but lumped together we vote them in. On the last issue there was an item for $5 million to build a dock at Stabler Point. Immediately after it was voted in, Santa said it wasn't doable. Where is the money?
Juneau has a cruise ship problem. We, the taxpayers, get to pay for the infrastructure for the hordes of tourist and seasonal workers who descend on us every year. I would venture that only about 20 percent of the tourist shops are locally owned and hire locally. Now City Hall wants to spend $9 million of your tax dollars to tear down Merchants Wharf and put another 15 to 20 local businesses out on the street with no affordable place to relocate. Very soon, the downtown waterfront will belong exclusively to the cruise ship industry during the summer months and not to us.
Our mayor spent about $400,000 of your dollars to design a glass dome for the Legislature. Why not rent space on South Franklin Street in the winter when it is a ghost town down there?
Local government lets us vote on bond issues until we get it right. How many times did we vote down the new police station and new high school? We have a declining and aging population.
Even though we have gifted and talented people in Juneau, when a job comes open we recruit from Outside. Three of my four children who were born here have left town because of the cost of living and the employment picture.
Our Assembly has discretionary spending on a good portion of our sales tax money. They use this power to buy private property without voter approval, which takes millions of dollars off the tax rolls.
The borough recently bought DeHarts Marina for $1 million over the appraised value. To justify this expenditure, they increased the appraisal of the adjoining private marina by $2 million. To pay for this, they have created a formula that will increase the stall space in DeHarts Marina to more than double the price of stalls in Aurora, Harris and Douglas harbors, and they plan to tear down DeHarts Marina. Is anyone aware that we just completed a dock in Taku Harbor? For whom? How much are we charging the users?
Santa has another list of presents for us if we extend the "temporary" sales tax another nine years. Don't fall for it. Vote it down and them out. We need to control our City Hall again.
Juneau resident Michael W. Millar is a retired state employee and owns a charter fishing business.