Ballot propositions require careful consideration

  • Thursday, October 1, 2015 9:14pm
  • Opinion

It may be an “off” year for an election, but decisions made by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Tuesday will have far-reaching impacts.

Indeed, residents in many of the borough’s districts will not find candidates’ names on their ballots. But, depending on where you live, you will find ballot propositions that are worthy of careful consideration, as well as a trip to the polls to make sure your vote on the subject is cast.

For starters, all borough voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 1. A yes vote on the measure repeals a borough ordinance that allows general law cities — Soldotna, Seldovia and Homer — to levy a sales tax on non-prepared food items from September through May, when groceries are exempted from borough sales tax. A no vote leaves the ordinance in place, allowing Soldotna to continue to levy sales tax on groceries year-round.

The proposition has significant ramifications for Soldotna, and voters should consider more than whether they want to save 3 percent on groceries in Soldotna, namely, whether it is appropriate for borough voters to set tax policy for the city of Soldotna.

If passed, the city has estimated that it will lose more than $1 million a year in revenue which could eventually affect property tax rates for people within city limits.

Proposition 2 will be put to voters within the proposed Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area, the boundaries of which match the Nikiski Fire Service Area. A yes vote authorizes the borough to provide law enforcement services. A property tax of not more than 1.5 mills would fund law enforcement.

Again, we encourage voters to look beyond your own bottom line, and consider whether the needs of the community and changes on the horizon necessitate police services.

Proposition 3 asks voters in the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area to expand service area boundaries offshore, where oil and gas development is occurring in the Cosmopolitan Unit. The measure would not increase taxes paid by the producer, but would subtract a local share from the state’s levy.

And Proposition 4 asks voters in the Central Emergency Service Area to approve bonds for Central Emergency Services to replace aging emergency response vehicles. The bonds would be repaid with a property tax of .17 mills.

We’ll leave it to voters to decide whether to vote up or down on the ballot propositions. But we do hope that, before going to the ballot box, voters take the time to consider the impacts of a yes or no vote on each issue the community as a whole. There’s certainly more to each proposition than saving a few bucks at the grocery store or on a tax bill.