I have lived in Juneau since 1968. In fact, when we moved to Juneau I had never lived any place more than five years without at least one move. We raised our family here and eventually owned a helicopter business, which we sold in 2007. Juneau is definitely my home. I care about Juneau and want to see it improve. Unfortunately, the population continues to decline and the costs continue to rise. I will be voting no for all the props on the ballot and have made an effort to explain why.
Proposition 1: Has anybody ever seen a true “temporary tax?” Not in Juneau. Sure the initial reason for an added tax may go away, but before it expires the Assembly will come up with an additional “need” that the expiring tax can be used for. The first one I remember (or paid attention to) was the building of the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool. But as soon as the pool was built, that temporary tax was used to build Centennial Hall. And “temporary” taxes have been added for so long, that no one believes the city sales tax will ever go below 5 percent.
Now, the Assembly has come up yet another “temporary” tax that is designed to gouge the tourists by increasing the tax on hotels. I don’t use Juneau hotels, but gouging tourists is not even right. The “could be” clause in the Proposition does not make me feel confident that the money will be spent on the “could be “ items. It goes into general obligation bonds and the Assembly uses it as their cash account for whatever they can agree to spend it on.
Proposition 2: Juneau has a bad habit of not maintaining and updating its property. The solution is always to just sell more bonds, add additional property tax levies, and either build a new, unneeded building or add an unnecessary addition to an existing building. Centennial Hall is a prime example. I agree that Centennial Hall is outdated and needs to be brought into the 21st century. But the Assembly wants to put offices into the Centennial Hall building and build a heated and covered walk to the JACC. Update the lobby, update the furnishings, HVAC, and other items that were approved by a 1-percent sales tax in 2017. That money was not used for that purpose. There is $4.5 million already appropriated for repair and maintenance of Centennial Hall but the Assembly wants to use that money as a grant for the JACC and sell 20-year bonds of $7 million to update Centennial Hall. Bonds are not free money.
Proposition 3: I love the arts. I love to go to concerts, theater and sometimes art shows. I think arts are an important part of life. But, the JACC will not belong to the city and it is not our obligation to pay for it. This proposition will pay for the JACC by using money originally intended for Centennial Hall to give as a grant to JACC. Former Mayor Ken Koelsch’s opinion published a few days ago, covers most of the things wrong with approving this propositon. Please read it and think carefully before voting. Then vote NO on Proposition 3.