In Win Gruening’s editorial in the Friday, March 18 Juneau Empire titled “Special election, indeed,” he should have informed his readers that he is a Ken Koelsch supporter and contributed $250 to Ken’s campaign. That helps explain some of his negative comments about Karen Crane.
Win wrote, “This election was not just about the candidates’ past experience or new ideas to address our shrinking budge, but also focused on two recent Assembly actions. The first was the repeal of the existing municipal senior sales tax exemption and the other, ironical, the special election itself”.
Win pointed out that Karen voted to spend the $35,000 for the election. He should have reminded his readers that the majority of the Assembly also voted to spend the money, it wasn’t just Karen who thought the Juneau voters have a right to elect their mayor and not be appointed by the Assembly. Singling her out was unfair.
Prior to June 2015, there were 9,606 senior sales tax exemption cards that had been issued since 1990 (1,854 were issued to non-CBJ residents). There were many more senior exemption cards in circulation than there were seniors. After the change there were 3,711 cards reissued; addressing the card discrepancies needed to be done as well as non-residents using exemption cards. Non-residents had generously been given sale tax exemptions in the past even though they were not contributing to CBJ public services that they were using (the airport, Bartlett Regional Hospital, road maintenance, fire and police protection, etc.) when in Juneau. Why should that have continued when the CBJ was facing a budget shortfall?
Changing the senior sales tax exemption was not an attack on seniors. It is unfortunate that Win did not inform his readers that the CBJ offers lots of financial support for seniors: Care-A-Van, free CBJ bus, senior discounts at Eaglecrest, Treadwell Arena and the swimming pools, sales tax exemption for CBJ utilities, food, home electricity and home fuel oil, low-income sales tax rebate and property tax exemption, tax exemptions on garbage service and land fill fees. The election was over. I have to ask myself, what was Gruening’s reason for writing the article?