As a property owner and a voter, I am taking a close look at the $15 million of projects in the bond package. Are some of the projects worthwhile? Sure! Are all of them necessary? No one has convinced me of that! Might there be other ways to fund them rather than upping our property taxes again? Yes! How about using cruise ship passenger fees for the Auke Bay and other harbor improvements? How about seeking state grants for the North Tee Harbor extension or considering a Local Improvement District assessment, like many Juneau folks have had to pay for sewer line extensions and road improvements.
This bond package was rushed through with minimal, if any, opportunity to brief citizens on the projects, to answer our questions, or to solicit our feedback. I live less than two miles from Auke Bay. Yet I recall no public discussion concerning all the development that is proposed at the commercial loading facility. Voters are being asked to approve $3.25 million in taxes for this Auke Bay project and the city doesn't even know where they are going to put it. And why are property owners being asked to foot the bill instead of using some of the proceeds from the cruise ship passenger fees?
Of course we need to invest in projects that will ensure a healthy future for our community, but I have far too many unanswered questions about this "wish-list" of projects. The Assembly needs to step back and take a critical look at their list. They need to look at other options for funding some of the projects and they need to get Juneau residents the information we need to make an informed decision about which projects we are willing to support with new taxes. Until the Assembly does their homework, this bond package gets a big " thumbs down" from me.
G. Carl Schrader
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.