I think it is unfortunate that Ron Somerville has chosen to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. In the Sept. 14 KINY News of the North article “Opposition to Senior Sales Tax Exemption Changes Gaining Momentum,” Ron builds his case for why the senior sales exemption should continue in perpetuity and without consideration for the long-term sustainability of the city. In fact, I would summarize his view as self-serving without consideration to the bigger picture.
So let’s have a reality check, Ron.
You say, “It’s not fair.”
Well, I agree. It’s not fair! The city’s budget is not being balanced on the backs of seniors, but on the backs of the working class — those who pay full sales tax, full property tax, full bus fare, and get no senior discounts at McDonalds. In essence, those under age 65 are subsidizing the revenue for the city for those who are exempted. As the senior population continues to grow disproportionately faster than other age groups, so does the revenue disparity. This needs to end.
The question is much, much bigger than whether or not the assembly should adopt the proposed changes. The real question for every citizen is, “What kind of community do you want Juneau to be, and what are you willing to sacrifice to have it?”
I want to see a vibrant community with a healthy cross-section of all age groups. I want to see more kids and young families. I want my kids to return after college and raise families here. But issues like this hamper these things from happening. We need to come together and see the bigger picture. The consequences of inaction are too great to ignore.
What I find most distressing is that this is only a modest change to an existing exemption. I would argue for the exemption to be phased out entirely, for the city to lower the sales tax to 4 percent, and exempt food purchases for everyone. Now that would be fair.
We as a state and as a community are facing extremely challenging times, and it will take everyone to see it through. This is not a senior issue — it’s a community issue. The assembly has done their job, and now it’s time for us to do ours. Support this modest change to the senior sales tax exemption.