In less than one week Homer voters will be asked to spend $17 million on two public projects that too few young voters are paying attention to. A $12-million police station and $4.8 million to bail out the hospital. We expect the folks behind these projects to support them — but why should the rest of us — young people in particular?
The city of Homer has been careening back and forth for years about our ability to even retain an adequate amount of employees to take care of what we currently have. Just like the state of Alaska on the verge of a budget collapse, we have no business at this time crashing through a dangerous fiscal intersection when the yellow light is flashing so brightly.
Your vote is about what you think our local priorities should be. To be against an expensive police building is not to be against police. And yet that is what the project supporters will say. We should also be very concerned about older people telling us we should raise tax rates to build this. This tendency to pass the burden of government onto the backs of younger people because of the ideas of older people needs to be restrained.
The case of the $5 million for the hospital is hard to swallow. Basically much of it boils down to the fact that they bought a clinic without asking us and now they think we should cough up money to make it work. Health care costs in Alaska are on the verge of going over a cliff. It’s truly amazing to watch this public institution siphon ever bigger chunks out of the economy and yet stand there asking for more.
There are different ways to accomplish public purposes. Just because some fairly smart older people sit down at meetings and move projects forward doesn’t make them the right thing to do. And our young people — especially, who pay a disproportionate share of their earnings on local taxes — need to find the voice to say “ do it differently.”
This vote is as good of place to start as any.