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KENAI PENINSULA BOROUGH MAYOR CALLS LOCAL CITIZENS "DOMESTIC TERRORISTS"!

Hal Spence,
Peninsula Clarion
Submitted by Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers
Mar. 26, 2006

Hello:

Please read the Sunday Peninsula Clarion article below where Mayor Williams calls A.C.T. members “domestic terrorists”!

In the blockbuster movie, “good night, and good luck”, there was an out-of-control elected official attempting to ruin the lives of ordinary citizens. Some brave news people finally stood up and expose Senator McCarthy for the over-zealous bully he was.

Will the media of this borough be brave enough to stand up to Mayor Williams before he does real harm to honest citizens?

Good night and good luck!

Mike McBride
252-3044 Kenai Cell
244-6446 Anchorage Cell

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Web posted Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mayor: Group’s criticisms off base ACT charges borough isn’t trying hard enough to limit taxes, Williams says that’s not true.

By HAL SPENCE
Peninsula Clarion

Assertions voiced earlier this month by a grassroots taxpayers group regarding the state of the borough’s finances were based on inaccurate information, wrong assumptions and demonstrated on their part a poor understanding of how municipal governments work, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams said Thursday.

It was the mayor’s first formal response to lengthy comments delivered to the borough assembly March 14 by members of the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers, commonly called ACT. During a 10-minute presentation and question-and-answer period that followed, ACT officials Vicki Pate, of Nikiski, and Ruby Kime, of Ninilchik, presented the group’s “120-Day Report,” a rebuttal of sorts to Mayor Williams’ 60-day transition report delivered in January in which he set the stage for addressing the borough’s looming financial problems.

Pate told the assembly that the idea behind the mayor’s 60-day report had been a good one. She applauded the mayor for creating an 18-member transition team of appointed borough residents who worked for nearly two months analyzing the borough’s finances and recommending approaches to meet the fiscal challenges facing the borough.

But she lambasted the resulting report.

“ACT feels the Williams’ report was biased in favor of higher taxes and did not address the public’s desire for lower taxes and greater efficiency in borough government,” she said.

ACT members have been vocally critical of borough spending and taxation policies for more than two years, and last year saw two ballot propositions it sponsored win voter approval. One, Proposition 4, limited the amount the assembly could spend on capital projects without a public vote to $1 million. It had been $1.5 million.

The other had the most immediate effect. Proposition 5, approved by about 54 percent of voters, rolled back a 1 percent increase in the sales tax approved by the assembly in June 2005 that was expected to generate nearly $30 million in new revenue between fiscal years 2005 and 2009. The proposition, now law, also required that any future increase in the sales tax win approval of a supermajority — 60 percent — of voters before it can be imposed.

Even before he was elected mayor, candidate John Williams argued against rolling back the sales tax. Since taking office, Williams has pulled few punches in delivering public warnings that it would take “draconian measures” to meet the financial crisis. Nor has he been reluctant to lay at least part of the blame for accelerating the borough’s difficulties squarely at the feet of ACT.

He has said more than once that he believed ACT members had no clear idea how Prop 5’s restrictions on sales tax revenues would impact the borough’s ability to provide its myriad government functions.

In his 60-day report presented in January, Williams warned that Prop 5 would “either slow down, severely disrupt, or curtail services” to some operations of the government altogether.

“Without significant changes to the government, the effect of Proposition 5 will be to bankrupt the general government,” he said. “The loss of funding to the general government and the services to the people of the Kenai Peninsula Borough through the budget years FY 2006 through FY 2009 will be close to $30 million. At present rates of loss, the borough will be $8.9 million in the red by the end of the FY 2009.”

Williams went on to say it was incomprehensible to him that the people of the peninsula as a whole “would intentionally want to destroy the very entities that they voted to build.”

ACT members expressed a wholly different view March 14.

“Mayor Williams claims the people who promoted Propositions 4 and 5 did not know what they were doing,” Pate told the assembly March 14. “We are those people, and we know exactly what we are doing. We are giving taxpayers the opportunity to control the size of their tax bills. If government does not control itself, the taxpayers will.”

Despite ACT’s claims to the contrary, Mayor Williams said Thursday that he continues to believe ACT members did not really know the true impact of Prop 5.

“They did not know,” he said. “I asked Mike McBride (chair of the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers), ‘Were you trying to shut down government?’ None of them realized the entire hit of Prop 5 would be aimed at the administrative force of the borough.”

The alternative, Williams said, is something more dire.

“If they did know what they were doing,” he continued, “then, to me, it amounts to domestic terrorism in an attempt to subvert government.”

Williams also said continuing requests for public information, while perfectly legal, have added significantly to the workload of borough employees — he believes unnecessarily.

“Their continuous disruption of government by continually requesting of staff more and more information, taking away time they need to properly run government, is costing taxpayers of the Kenai Peninsula Borough rather than saving them money,” Williams said.

Federal freedom of information laws allow governments to charge fees for public information when the time providing documents exceeds five hours a month. He said the borough is considering charging ACT for the time.

Further, the mayor noted that his administration has only been in power for five months. In that time, he said, a volcano has blown, an oil-bearing ship has grounded, there’d been a major power outage and the borough has put on the highly successful Arctic Winter Games, all while facing a budget potentially $7 million in the red and writing a new and leaner spending plan for fiscal year 2007.

“We’ve hardly gotten our feet on the ground,” he said.


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