By Chris Story
In terms of effective communication, sometimes it helps advance ones point to draw out to the extreme a concept or idea that may be an unintended, albeit remote, consequence tomorrow of decisions made today.
You no doubt have experience with your own kids, or perhaps your parents, utilizing this tactic to promote a behavior that will ultimately benefit the recipient of your sage and perhaps dire warnings.
But from my elected officials, I expect more. You deserve to be treated like an able-thinking adult. For example, at the Sept. 9 Homer City Council meeting, James Dolma’s closing statements included a back-handed thank you for showing up; but chastised that when you come asking for more services you better be prepared to pay higher taxes. “We can have 40 basketball courts if you want, we’ll just raise your taxes,” he said. This reminds me of the time that Councilman Dolma said that if you didn’t want to pay non-prepared food sales tax in the winter months – “Perhaps we don’t need a fire department. Perhaps we don’t need a police station.”
Councilman Lewis closed the Sept. 9 meeting with the comments that, yes, Soldotna has more money for books in their library, yes they are looking to expand the sports center; but remember, they didn’t take a holiday on their non-prepared foods sales tax.
Do you remember when the seven million dollar library was being proposed? The discussion was centered on its aesthetics and purported energy efficiency. Rumors of its energy efficiency were greatly exaggerated; and for the first several years it appeared that we forgot to budget in for landscaping. (I know…all part of the LEADS program. Don’t get me started).
The college proposed a consortium library; NO. There simply wasn’t room as we were hardly increasing the stack space as it was. Don’t get me wrong, I like the library and find it to be an asset for the community.
What I’m proposing is a balance between wants and needs. Rather than immediately going to a tax increase; embrace the concept of doing more with less.
For example, when the city manager proposed purchasing tablet PC’s for all the council members, this very lavish want became an ongoing very expensive need. Forever more this community will have the continued expense of new, improved, updated and replaced tablets and increased IT for this and future councils. The want was worthy, a neat and slick way to capture emails for city business and keep separate from personal. The low, virtually no cost, option of keeping the emails through the city server was cast aside for the expensive ongoing want.
When it came time to update the city comprehensive plan, rather than do so with staff and an ad hock community committee; as had been done during previous revisions, an expensive expert firm from out of town was hired for well over $100,000.
Yes, we’ve been told by the council that it’s expensive to live here and we need to get used to it. Well, do you want 40 basketball courts?
Chris Story is a lifelong Alaskan, and broker and owner of Story Real Estate. He is also host of “Alaska Matters Radio,” heard Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on KGTL.
Comments are closed