Northwest Digest

Posted: Thursday, December 07, 2006

Broke government faces more tax fights

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FAIRBANKS - A vocal tax opponent and former city councilwoman wasted no time in announcing she will organize a referendum aimed at repealing a jobs tax approved by the Fairbanks City Council.

Donna Gilbert, president of the Interior Taxpayers Association, said Tuesday she will seek a repeal of the tax approved Monday.

The measure calls for a $20 per month tax on most people who work within city limits. It was passed after voters in October slashed property taxes and limited the council's ability to assess a sales tax.

Council members were left to find ways to fill an estimated $10.3 million gap in the budget for 2007.

Gilbert had threatened to challenge most of the options discussed by the council, including the job tax.

Developer pulls out of ski resort project

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage developer has withdrawn plans to build a Hatcher Pass ski resort and residential subdivision with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. JL Properties quietly pulled out of the $38 million project in October.

There was no public announcement and the Mat-Su Borough Assembly learned of the decision Friday night by e-mail from borough manager John Duffy.

David Germer, JL Properties vice president, cited a lack of public support.

"We've developed a conceivable, achievable plan, but we just didn't want to take that step without the public support," Germer said Friday.

Duffy said he wanted to firm up plans for what should happen next. He planned to present the information at a Dec. 19 assembly meeting. "We're just starting to think about how you do this," Duffy said.

Democrat governors band together

DENVER - Prominent Western Democrats who have snatched Senate seats and governorships from Republicans in recent years are joining forces with the hope of spreading their party's success to the White House.

The New West Project, to be formally announced Dec. 18, would outline strategies for reaching Western voters and the issues critical to them.

Colorado Gov.-elect Bill Ritter said Wednesday that he had agreed to be a co-chairman. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado and other Western senators have agreed to provide expertise and guidance on the region, said Jon Summers, Reid's spokesman.

Other Western governors also were expected to participate.

Democrats have long held governorships in Oregon and Washington state while Republicans maintained a grip elsewhere in the West. Since 2002, however, Democrats have won governorships in Montana, Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and now Colorado.

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