Why the sales tax proposals failed

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2005

Like many Juneau voters, I voted against extending the one percent sales tax for the swimming pool and the airport, while voting for extending it for the other projects on the ballot. Since I assume that my reasoning may reflect that of many other Juneau voters, I would like to offer it so that the city government can consider it in deciding when and how to resubmit a sales tax proposal to the electorate.

The pool was simply too expensive. I was on the fence on this one until I learned that Petersburg was building a bare-bones pool for a third of what Juneau was proposing. If the behemoth we were being asked to fund was to be our only pool, the price and the size might have been justified. I frankly have some question as to whether a town of 30,000 people needs two pools. But I probably would have voted for a reasonable pool proposal, and would do so if one appears on the ballot in the future.

As to the airport, I didn't think that whoever was behind this proposal did a good enough job in setting out the arguments for it. Sure, the upstairs departure and arrival area can be crowded, but not so crowded as to warrant spending $20 million to alleviate the crowding. I was not at all convinced by the argument that we needed to spend this amount to entice a second major carrier to come into town. At this point, and considering the state of the airlines industry, this would seem to be a pipe dream. (Remember a few years ago when the Juneau Economic Development Council told us that they had arranged for a major Canadian carrier to start flying between Juneau and Vancouver, and the whole deal suddenly collapsed, without explanation?) Moreover, Juneau has seemingly been able to accommodate multiple airlines in the past, Alaska and Western/Delta, Alaska and Wien Air Alaska, Alaska and MarkAir, without problems. There are already three large gates in the upstairs departure and arrival area: gates 3, 4 and 5. There is also a gate 6, but I am not sure exactly what sort of gate that is. Those gates seem to be more than adequate to house Alaska's flights and the one or two a day that a would-be new airline would bring.

John B. Gaguine


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