Offended about possible flat tax increase

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2003

Thanks for the alert about the water and sewer rate hike. The proposed total bill is actually $85.40 monthly. This exceeds my electric bill and garbage bills combined - and I heat with electricity in the summer. It is 200 percent higher than current Sitka rates.

Personally, I am offended that the assembly is considering a flat tax increase. A single person living alone in a one-bathroom home will pay the same $1,025.00 annually as a family of 12 living in a four-bath mansion. That's inequitable and wrong. Use can be accounted for by considering the number of heads or baths in a residence. Water meters could even be reintalled. Waste management visits every garbage can weekly, even in the Taku wind. The power company meters every building monthly, even when meters are covered in ice. The city could certainly read meters quarterly.

During the summer, Princess Cruises empties a couple million gallons monthly into our sewer, though it is pretreated. And all the tour ships hook up to our water. The usage is metered and there is an arrangement for the pretreated sewage. But can't we also apply the tour ship head tax to Juneau's water and sewer infrastructure? Paying for infrastructure necessary to support tourism was the whole idea of that tax. Let's use it for that before throwing it away on a gradiose waterfront development plan. Can we get along without major waterfront development? Yes. Can we get along without water and sewer? No. The right choice is obvious. It isn't as if this is the only new flat tax. The Legislature even wants to add a statewide sales tax. And our assessments and mil rates aren't going down. Flat taxes here, flat taxes there, flat taxes everywhere. I have always been against tax revolts because they are so hard on libraries and schools. But clearly even local governement hasn't received the message that there is something wrong with flat taxes. That's why we still don't have a progressive state income tax and why the assembly can propose a new flat tax of $240 annually as if it was OK. Well, it isn't. I can't prevent the imposition of new user fees, but the next time I have an opportunity to support a property tax limitation initiative, I will sign it. The assembly made me do it.

Walter M. Gregg


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