Why I will vote ‘yes’ on HEA
exemption from RCA control
I’ve lived in Homer for the last 40 years and I’ve written a check to Homer Electric Association for my electricity every month since we built our house. Our roots run deep in this community and like you, we have a stake in every decision HEA makes.
For the past seven years, I’ve also served on HEA’s board of directors, a role that has required me to use my business background in new ways. Our board voted unanimously to hold a special election so that ratepayers could decide one question: should HEA move to local control, and become exempt from regulation by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska?
I’ll be voting “yes,” and here’s why:
• Local leaders we elected would make our decisions — not political appointees that are biased towards Anchorage, which the RCA has become. If you don’t like what your directors are doing, simply vote them out. There are three up for election each and every May. You can’t vote out the RCA.
• Our cooperative would become more nimble and innovative without the weight of the RCA’s slow, bureaucratic approval process. Just as Kodiak Electric did in 2002, withdrawing from RCA oversight before embarking to build their 100 percent renewable system that won them co-op of the year award. MTA members also got out from under the RCA last spring.
• We will all save some cash by getting rid of the RCA charge on our bills each month, and adding efficiency that puts further downward pressure on rates. The RCA has cost our co-op millions in the short time I have been on the board.
• Thousands of hours HEA employees spend dealing with the RCA will be spent helping our members instead.
• This action is reversible. If members don’t like the benefits that 80 percent of the co-ops in the United States enjoy, we can vote to rescind it.
I invite you to learn more about the special mail election at HEA’s website: homerelectric.com/local-control (Found under My Cooperative).
As always, members can call or e-mail me with questions or issues. Your board of directors answers and addresses many more issues for our members than the RCA does. I talk to more members in a week than they do in a year.
Please vote by returning your ballot in the mail this October.
Time to change senior exemption
I feel compelled to offer an opinion about the Kenai Peninsula Borough Senior Citizen Property Tax exemption. Yes, I am a senior, and qualify, and have, both for the 100 percent exemption that existed starting in 1986 and the $300,000 exemption as of 2007.
When Stan Thompson was borough mayor, he feared for the homesteaders who still owned their homestead lands, and wanting to protect them, he offered to the voters the option of the 100 percent exemption for residents aged 65 and older. That was a huge blessing for many and brought many new seniors to the peninsula.
The state mandated the first $150,000 exemption of property value for seniors, and during the early 1980s when the legislation was passed, the state also reimbursed the boroughs for the loss of tax revenue from that exemption. As state income tightened in the latter 1980s, the state ceased the reimbursement, but the mandate of AS 29.45.030(e) remains.
By 2007 it was obvious to the borough that change had to be made, as the 100 percent property tax exemption was creating a significant financial shortfall for the borough, and to continue it, would have required an increase of property taxes. And so the borough asked the voters to limit the exemption to an additional $150,000 above the state mandated $150,000 exemption, and to that was added the also voter-approved residential exemption of $50,000. Today, seniors over 65, and disabled veterans enjoy a $350,000 property tax exemption.
And yes, that is attractive to seniors. Nowhere else in the state is this available, and nowhere else in the country besides. At least not that I am aware of.
Ordinance 2016-24, as passed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on July 26 will put before the voters of the borough the option of slowly phasing out the borough’s $150,000 exemption. When the 100 percent exemption was changed to $150,000 the fear was seniors would leave. The opposite has happened. I do not expect them to leave now, I certainly won’t, and I hope they consider how unfair this exemption is to their neighbors who have to make it up. To say nothing for the service areas, such as the hospital and the roads and emergency services, that also need that added income to provide the services they provide.
I hope the public will take a close look at what Borough Mayor Mike Navarre has proposed. If this initiative passes, seniors will still enjoy a $200,000 total property tax exemption. Tell me, where else in this country is that available? The borough also offers a hardship exemption if property taxes, with the exemption, exceed 2 percent of gross income. No one will lose their property or their home. I know borough staff will come to Homer to further explain the dramatic impact this exemption has made and will make in the future, as state funding is withdrawn by the legislature. Someone has to make it up. I believe we all have an obligation to do that. And I fully support the borough in this effort.
HHA says thanks for support
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the numerous event participants, volunteers, and who contributed to the 2016 Rounds for the Rink, an annual fundraiser to benefit the Homer Hockey Association and the Kevin Bell Arena.
Thank you to the hole sponsors: Café Cups, the Grog Shop, Homer Fish Processing, Northwind Aviation, Red Rose Rentals, Salty Dawg Saloon, Sundog Consulting, Magic Fish Company, and SalmonState.org.
Thank you also to businesses who provided in-kind support including Fritz Creek General Store, Homer Brewing Company, Salmon Sisters, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Moose Pretzel Disc Golf Club, and the Kevin Bell Arena.
Special thanks go to Scott and Esa Woodland, owners of The Tips Golf course, for providing a venue to keep this summertime tradition alive, and Doug Hamer, who keeps the course in great shape.
Thanks also to the team of tournament volunteers, Diana Carbonell, Jan Rumble, Shelley Laukitis, Sue Reynolds, Travis Brown, Chris Russ, and Hannah Snow, who ensured the event ran smoothly.
Thank you all for your continued support to the Homer Hockey Association and Kevin Bell Arena. See you at the rink.
Loretta Brown and
Homer Hockey Association
Anchor Point pantry needs you
The Anchor Point Food Pantry, which serves about 80 families per month and covers Nikolaevsk, Happy Valley and Ninilchik as well as Anchor Point, operates primarily on donations. Here are some of the items we currently need:
• Food Donations: nonperishable food items such as, but not limited to, soup, hamburger or tuna helper, dry mixes, cereal, jelly, dried or canned beans, canned fruit and vegetables.
• Non-food donations: personal care items such as body soap, shampoo & conditioner, toothpaste & toothbrushes, razors, feminine products, laundry soap, toilet paper, etc.
• Miscellaneous items: Shelving is needed for canned goods; a laptop to keep track of statistics; a printer capable of being independent of a computer; Ziploc bags.
• Volunteers: Opportunities include making soup, recording statistics, fundraising and public awareness.
• Perishable food items: Onions, carrots, potatoes, garden veggies, fresh or last year’s fish and meat, or other. (Please drop these items off at the pantry on Mondays or call for us to pick them up).
Drop off locations for non-perishable items are at the Anchor Point Library, the Warehouse or the food pantry store during their regular hours of operation.
If you or anyone you know is in need of food (deliveries may be possible), or if you are interested in learning more about our volunteer opportunities come to the Great Land Worship Center (behind Chapman School) on Mondays from 4-6 p.m. or call Teece, director, at 299-6286.
Melissa Martin, assistant director
Anchor Point Food Pantry