By Chris Story
Of every dollar you earn, what amount is yours to keep?
On Monday, Oct. 28 Homer City Council discussed that the City is losing upwards of $1,000,000 annually by not collecting sales tax on non prepared foods year round.
Think about that. By keeping more money in your pocket to spend, invest and do with as you please, this is considered to be a loss to the city coffers. The reality is that you earned your money, and no one knows how to spend it better than you.
We see how money is spent when it enters the public domain. Look at the bathrooms on Pioneer Avenue. Are you offended that the City is spending around $200,000 per two stall restroom? The average price of a home in the United States right now is $199,000. Homer’s average is not much higher than that.
Oh yes, here comes the talk of Davis Bacon wages and so forth; the point remains, no government on earth, no matter how well intentioned can spend your money more wisely than you.
It is our job as a citizenry to speak up and hold the government accountable. As an elected official, if you consider spending $250,000 planning a new city hall building, that was never to be built, a good investment; you’re on the wrong side of history.
If you, as an elected official out of one side of your mouth chastise those that would attempt to make Homer a more affordable place to live year round with some sales tax relief on non prepared foods, and then spend $20,000 surveying a potential trail location (in the wrong location); you are on the wrong side of history.
Time and again you are told that if only you’d pay more for your bread and butter, literally, then and only then can we fund the essentials. Hold that thought while you process the notion that $300,000 has been appropriated for the planning of a safety building that may, or may not, get state funding to build.
You and I are left to pay for the increased cost of maintaining the new infrastructure; the city manager even warns of the increased cost to maintain new buildings in his budget report to the council.
So how much of your money is yours to keep? And if the city of Homer does not collect that $1,000,000 in sales tax, does that money evaporate?
No! It by in large stays here in the community where it was earned, and cycles through many pockets. My advice to the city council is to answer their own question.
Councilman Dave Lewis asked, I think sincerely, where can we get more money?
Allow business to do business. Stop micromanaging the thickness of plastic bags. Allow the Bay View Inn to operate, create employment and generate sales tax. Don’t force homeowners into court when the city sewerage systems back up into their homes. The cost to cure this problem is going to be exponentially higher based on the city’s approach of “sue us,” than if they had simply fixed the problem the homeowner didn’t create.
One homeowner, I know, accidentally built their garage a few feet over the setback; no line of sight issues whatsoever. The homeowner attempted to resolve the problem with the city by offering a potential solution; a fee of $3,000 for a variance. This was rejected, the garage remains where it was built and the city is $3,000 behind where it could have been.
The city of Homer decided that you were going to build out Enstar’s infrastructure, and by the way, you are borrowing the money at 4.5 percent interest from yourself through Kenai Peninsula Borough savings and loan. Now that’s a neat trick.
Imagine Homer truly being “Open for Business.”
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.
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