Mayoral candidates call for change

Zimmerman concerned over finances

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2000

The city is healthy, according to mayoral candidate Patty Zimmerman, but poverty in Juneau is growing.

In her second try for city office, Zimmerman criticized the city's fiscal management. "I've worked for two Fortune 500 companies and managed large financial accounts, and though our town is beautiful and the crime rate is low, the number of people below the poverty line is growing."

"The mayor has a key leadership role in the community," she said. "I would set the tone to encourage voluntary service, selflessness and community involvement."

With regard to the six ballot

propositions, Zimmerman turned thumbs down on three: the 3 percent sales tax renewal, school bonding and the ferry/road advisory vote. She supports renewing the 1 percent sales tax, convening a charter commission and the flightseeing noise initiative.

The 3 percent sales tax proceeds "have not been managed well in the past by the city and the assembly," Zimmerman said, citing "the continuing (North Douglas) Bonnie Brae subdivision sewage problem and the city's inadequate storm drains."

Though tax receipts may not be dedicated to a specific purpose, the Juneau Assembly has stated its intent to spend the proceeds of the 3 percent tax on what it terms "basic services" such as schools, police and fire protection, roads and sidewalks, drainage, water and sewer extensions, and youth activities.

Zimmerman said she would like to cut the Bartlett Regional Hospital administration budget and the school administration budget, though not the services provided by the hospital and school district.

She nevertheless does support Proposition 2 renewal of the 1 percent sales tax for a term of five years most of whose proceeds have been earmarked by the assembly for the hospital and school repairs.

The city has projected income over the five-year run of the tax of about $26 million, $20 million of which would go to help pay for Bartlett's expansion plan, Project 2005; $1.1 million to construction of an ice rink in Douglas; and about $4 million to help pay off school bond debt incurred by passage of Proposition 3 which Zimmerman opposes.

"I am in favor of repairing the schools, but not in favor of the bond as it is written," Zimmerman said.

The public approved bonding for building a new high school last year, she said, "but we were banking on state funding that was refused."

In future, the city should arrange for contingency agreements with the Legislature "so that voters clearly understand and can expect predictable results," she said.

Zimmerman said she will vote yes on Proposition 4. The measure convenes a commission that would formulate and recommend changes to the city charter.

"Thomas Jefferson pressed for a ward republic; his vision was to have every generation review the Constitution," she said. "Our charter is not followed by city management or the police department or the legal department the charter calls for one attorney and there are four."

Zimmerman favors Proposition 5, the tourist-flight noise initiative.

"I believe the recent increase in citizen activist groups, neighborhood associations and environmental groups is because city hall has not been listening effectively," she said. "That's directly related to the inordinate degree of power of the Alaska Committee, the (Juneau) Planning Commission, the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Airport Board."

Zimmerman said she felt "industrial tourism" and the cruise lines "are driving the economy into a downward spiral" because of their employment of "seasonal people."

As a fix, she recommended development of a local masonry industry making use of glacial silt and the use of local recycled plastics in such materials as Polartec, a fabric used in pile clothing.

She also recommended encouragement of year-round tourism and a cut to Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau funding.

Proposition 6 the advisory vote on enhanced ferry service or a road out of Juneau is "poorly written," she said.

Zimmerman supports instead construction of a road up the Taku River valley. "It's scenically preferable because it goes by the five-mile face of the Taku Glacier and you don't cross 60 avalanche chutes," she said. "Also, the road would actually lower the cost of butter and eggs."

She supports improved ferry service, she said, but is against fast ferries "because they are unstable in all weather, erode the coastline and use excessive fuel."

Patty Zimmerman declined to have her picture taken in time for this article.

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