How the Anchorage Assembly Broke My BS Meter

How the Anchorage Assembly Broke My BS Meter

My BS meter broke after reading the story by Devin Kelly of the Alaska Disputed News: “Assembly agrees to lower property taxes – but not yet.” So, forgive me if you hear muted cuss words as I write this on the go, while I repair my detector machine.

Right away, the title of her article made the yellow light on my meter turn on. Who are they fooling, when it says: “But not yet?”

Then by the first paragraph, the yellow light turned to red. Accordingly, the city will – MAYBE – rebate $5 million.  What?! Isn’t our surplus $15 million? What happened to the $15 million already?

Then, my meter lights started blinking:

“Assembly members ultimately decided not to give out a rebate right away, but to leave the door open to one later this year, if the city has the money.”

The machine interpreted the words “if the city has the money” to be a standard laugh line.

Third-grader graduate Kelly then got the red warning lights to start a beeping sound when she wrote:

“The Berkowitz administration proposed using about $4 million, or one-fifth, of the city’s projected surplus for the year.”

When I was in third grade math, we counted bananas and other kinds of fruit. 4 bananas out of 15 bananas would be, like, well, let’s see, how do we do fractions again? It would exceed one-fourth. But we’re talking about millions here not bananas, so I see the confusion. Anyway, it’s only off by a little. My machine caught it though and started beeping louder.

By the way, my BS meter is an advanced model that can detect certain whiffs if exuded by the protagonists in the story themselves. Let’s continue:

“Dunbar said in an interview that he, Croft and Weddleton all talked about property taxes before they were sworn in last week.   ‘While we were door-knocking, we certainly heard that people wanted some form of property tax relief,’ Dunbar said. ‘So we tried to develop a method where we could do that, without being fiscally irresponsible.’”

My meter coughed and spurted at this point, apparently trying to dismiss these blatant I-heard-but-I-didn’t-care statements given by these freshmen Assembly folks. I must have switched on by accident the benefit-of-the-doubt button. By this time, I could see a little smoke cracking out the sides of my machine.

If Dunbar and company actually heard that people wanted “property tax relief,” then here was their chance to be heroes of the people and give back all the surplus. They, indeed, should do more door-knocking.

Unfortunately, no matter how we slice these words, stuff is oozing out.

The Anchorage Assembly couldn’t see fit to just rebate this $15 million bonus raspberry pie without getting out their plates and forks for a sample.

We read further in the Kelly article:

“The proposal from Croft, Dunbar and Weddleton said $5 million of that could be given out as property tax relief … “depending on the availability of funds”

The resolution… said the rebate would be paid only on the first $300,000 of assessed valuation…”

My poor machine. It had never been under such stress, not since the days of Clinton’s definition of “Is.”

Cut out the BS. The surplus was not given back. They are not interested in giving it back. Besides, they already redistributed to needy organizations without public approval. Property taxes were increased. The mill rate was voted up.

I quote the final sentence of this knee-deep story, the sentence that shorted out my meter:

 “In the short term, individual households will see an average property tax increase of $42 per every $300,000 of valuation.”

What the hay?! The article title said they lowered taxes.

Likewise, the article failed to mention that Amy Demboski, Bill Starr, and Bill Evans opposed the tax hike.

Demboski afterwards said, “The Assembly didn’t vote for a tax rebate nor to lower your taxes, they voted to merely think about it, and instead, they raised taxes by almost 7%.”

For her, it was a touchy-feely vote. She said, “If you don’t see a tax rebate, they’ll blame Juneau, rather than the inconvenient truth that they rejected all budget reductions, increased spending, and chose to raise taxes.”

Facts are inconvenient.

Eugene Harnett, APEonline editor