Home | Ketchikan | Alaska | Sports | Waterfront | Business | Education | Religion | Scene
Classifieds | Place a class ad | PDF Edition | Home Delivery

The questions

The October municipal election isn’t all about candidates.

Five propositions will be on the ballot in two weeks.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough has two propositions. The city has three.

To avoid an excessive amount of time in the voting booth, it would behoove potential voters to be familiar with the propositions.

The first one placed on the ballot by the borough regards a tobacco excise tax.

This is a tax created on cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2016. Earlier this year, the Assembly dedicated the tax to a local education fund. But the tax expires in 2022. To prevent its expiration, would require a yes vote. A no vote likely would reduce the cost of tobacco products locally. The excise tax realized $1.3 million for the fund in fiscal 2019, which is equivalent to nine-tenths of a mill.

The second borough proposition is for the residents of the Old Daily Road area. They would be asked whether they want to form a service area. Property owners in the area petitioned the borough for the service area. A service area means a levy of an anticipated 3.4 mills to generate about $10,000 in the area for roads and street lighting. A yes vote creates the service area. A no vote leaves the area as it is.

The first of the three city propositions regards onsite consumption of marijuana and marijuana products. Either way, the vote doesn’t affect the two downtown marijuana businesses. They don’t qualify under state rules to be consumption sites. The rules require that they be located in standalone buildings. A yes vote prohibits onsite consumption within the city limits; a no vote would allow it.

The second city proposition speaks to a $11.5 million loan by Ketchikan Public Utilities to finance construction of an undersea fiber optic cable between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The loan would be repaid with KPU savings as a result of the cable. No taxes would be increased. A yes vote gives the green light for the loan; a red light means KPU cannot improve its service.

The final ballot proposition deals with a city water revenue bond. A yes vote would allow the city acquire a loan of up to $5 million to begin to fix 30-year-old water lines. Once again the source of loan repayment wouldn’t be taxes. The money for making payments would come from savings realized by lower maintenance costs and a fee increase, if necessary. The fee increase would be over time, and it wouldn’t exceed $5.10 per month. A no vote leaves open the possibility of expensive emergency repair jobs as lines age and fail.

The propositions cover the gamut. From tobacco and marijuana to infrastructure — all issues voters should decide. They affect the quality of life in Ketchikan.