The polls indicate that sentiment for and against the statewide "Tax Cap" initiative is about even, and that Southeast Alaskans seem to favor it slightly more than folks up north. Even though I understand any individual's frustration with high property taxes, if you are thinking of voting for this measure in November, I urge you to reconsider.
Property tax is a local municipal measure and the mill rates should be based on each community's needs and tax base. Some communities have more luck than others getting help from the state or federal government for schools, recreation facilities, sanitation and other public utilities, emergency services, etc. It is sometimes necessary to raise local property taxes to meet these needs, and it should be up to the residents of each city to decide if they are willing to pay a little more in order to have those needs met.
Just as a resident of Juneau would not presume to vote for animal control ordinances in Kodiak, city assembly members in Ketchikan or bond issues in Wasilla, we should not be setting property tax limits for communities where we don't live. If you want to cap the taxes in your own municipality, go for it! That's what democracy is all about. Circulate local petitions, get signatures, convince your neighbors, make your case in the media, vote in your local election -- but don't use your vote to make decisions for the people in Fairbanks or Palmer.
The statewide Tax Cap Initiative represents an abuse of the grass roots democratic system in the guise of a citizen's movement. Ask yourself: "Do I want the people in Anchorage or Aniak deciding what my Juneau property taxes will be?"
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