Letters To The Editor
July 16, 2014
Why I am against SB 21 and believe we need to repeal the
‘giveaway’ this August 19th.
I am from and therefore of Alaska. What I know about life, the world
and living has been acquired while existing almost exclusively in
Alaska. In other words, Alaska has shaped me and as I grow into stages
of adulthood I understand the importance of helping, in my small way,
shape Alaska, in return.
I was born after oil had been discovered on the North Slope and the
trans-Alaska pipeline was finished by the time I was two. I remember
receiving my first PFD check and being unclear why. I did not
understand, at that point in my life, that Alaska is an owner state
and the resources belong to the residents, much less, that a forward
thinking governor had insisted that Alaskans invest its share of the
oil wealth into an investment account.
For most of my life the subject of oil and gas development, in Alaska,
has intimidated me. A convoluted subject, best left to lawyers,
politicians, native corporations and NGOs. I have never found my way
into this conversation and do not have the proper tools to wield any
authority on the convoluted topics associated therein. However, SB-21,
the oil tax ‘giveaway’, as it’s been called, is something I have
tried to wrap my mind around.
Many oil producing nations tax private developers at a high rate and
invest that wealth into rainy day funds, as well as pay capital
expenses. Norway, for example deposits 100 percent of its oil and gas
revenue into a sovereign wealth fund and withdraws from it, to pay for
public services. Alaska by comparison, seems to fly by the seat of its
pants and our best ideas for increased revenue is more leases and more
development – reducing tax rates in a desperate attempt to curry more
With no strings attached, for the oil developers to produce, SB-21 can
only be seen as what it is – a giveaway, to the richest corporations
in the history of the world.
Lost within the dialogue of oil taxes, investment, owner state verses
owned state, TV ads and rankling discourse, is the subject of climate
change, it’s effects on Alaska and our role as a contributor.
As sea level rises, many Alaskan communities will need to be moved.
The estimated cost per person to be relocated is $7million. Climate
change will soon become a very expensive problem in Alaska and we can
barely afford to pay our teachers or provide basic services under the
current oil tax model.
Alaska’s history is one of boom and bust. First the fur trade, then
gold and now oil and gas and the glimmering hint of renewed mineral
development. Our nonrenewable resources need to be reconsidered from a
new vantage. Selling them off at a low rate to encourage more
development is not a viable or sustainable solution.
There are many reasons to repeal SB-21 and I have only scratched the
surface of my feelings on the subject. It is very important that
Alaskans consider what will happen in the very near future if this tax
structure is allowed to remain; loss of revenue for education, roads
and basic public infrastructure, income tax, and plundering the PFD,
are all very plausible if SB-21 is not repealed.
Remember, we own the resources and we are the government. It’s time
to be the responsible owners our constitutional framers intended us to
May 20, 2014
March 22, 2014
Subject: Johnny B Concert
Hey Seldovians…. If you did not go to the Johnny B. concert on March 21 at the School, you really missed a good time at a really affordable price. Johnnie has been entertaining in Homer for years and has a fantastic show. Even though he is billed as a “Boogie-Woogie” artist, he is much more talented in any genre you wish to hear. His show was also a big hit with the school kids on Thursday. Many parents were there too. But, again, I say you missed a wonderful time.
I also want to thank the Arts Council for bringing fantastic entertainment to us at such a low price. You could not go anywhere else and see the quality of entertainment that we get for such a reasonable family and individual cost. Johnny was very complimentary about his stay here and felt so welcome to Seldovia. Thanks to all of you who loved his concert and lets’ bring him back. For those who missed… look for upcoming entertainment this Spring and Summer. It is going to be a great one! Don’t miss out!
February 26, 2014
Do we want a doctor in our clinic?
At the Seldovia City Council meeting on February 12, 2014 Dr. Reynolds officially announced his April 30 retirement from office practice. He also announced he does not intend to renew his medical license which expires at the end of December.
This means after April, unless a replacement is found, there will be no doctor holding regularly scheduled office hours in our clinic and after December no doctor will taking emergency calls and so-forth in Seldovia.
Isn’t it time for open and in-depth community discussion of the future of the City of Seldovia’s Clinic facilities?
Why else would this be an appropriate issue for discussion?
The answers to these questions might provide a hint: Will people feel secure for their health and that of their children with out a doctor present in the community? Will Seldovia prosper without continuation of a medical practice in the Clinic? Will it remain an attractive place to live or move to or become a place people flee? Will your property gain or lose value?
If the issue is worth discussion, some points which might be addressed are:
Does the Community need/want continued presence of a doctor’s office there? Would a PA (Physicians Assistant), NP (Nurse Practitioner), or other medical professional be adequate and acceptable to the community?
If a PA or Doctor or other medical professional is desired; how might we go about finding that person? Where might we look beyond the immediate lower Kenai Peninsula area – Young practitioners right out of training? – Military medical personnel leaving the service? – Recently retiring doctors (rumor has it there may be many of them)?
How could we find candidates: Advertise; if so where? Personal communication? Other?
When? – time is rapidly running out.
Is additional subsidy necessary to attract a new occupant? At the same meeting the City Manager said everyone he’s talked to has asked: “What’s your budget?” Is the community willing to help make a new medical practice more financially viable while it gets on its feet by going above and beyond the current subsidy level?
Currently the City of Seldovia owns and maintains the facility at a cost of about $10,500 per year to City taxpayers (average from FY07-FY11 City audits). The space is provided rent free. The water and sewer, heat, lights and snow removal are all provided by the City at no cost to occupants as are other perks.
If so how might the subsidy be acceptably increased?
A few ideas: Bridge loans, provide living space in the facility, pay for malpractice insurance (may cost less than you might think), expand utility cost subsidy, supply janitorial services, hire or contract for some or all support personnel, possibly even hire the doctor?
How might further subsidy be financed? Below are a few possibilities:
Each 1% of a new City of Seldovia sales tax dedicated to the purpose might raise about $35,000 per year (KPB Seldovia Taxable sales, grey area with Tide Pool closure) from all those living in and around the City and visiting (Tourists, part-time residents) the Community. Part of the cost of the clinic subsidy is currently funded through sales tax revenues though they are not directed there by ordinance.
Could the purpose of the Seldovia Recreational Service area be extended and the mil rate increased to provide subsidy? A ½ mil increase would raise about $35,000 per year from all property owners in the area – but nothing from renters and visitors.
Would there be interest in the community to support a medical professional operating out of the Clinic by a subscription program? 200 families paying in $100 per year would raise $20,000.
Each additional 1 mil property tax on real and personal property in the City of Seldovia would raise around $37,000 per year (FY08-FY11 City audits), but residents of the surrounding area and visitors get off scot-free.
Perhaps we don’t want or need a city supported clinic? Maybe the City should move its offices into the multipurpose building? But, consider as probable, if we give up that aspect of life in Seldovia now, we’ll never get it back.
January 16, 2014
We live on the West side and would be affected by the proposed
annexation. It’s a worthwhile discussion and we applaud Chris for
bringing it to the table.
I suspect that the local response to this issue is similar to many
public issues in that if it costs me money it’s bad and if it saves me
money it’s good and if it’s revenue neutral to me, don’t care.
December 26, 2013
In response to article on December 23, 2013 Meet the New Owners of the Boardwalk Hotel
We would like to extend our welcome to you, Jeremiah & Angela!
We look forward to meeting you and watching the transformation of the hotel. We are your neighbors, next door, at the old Buzz. It will be wonderful for Seldovia to have another “destination” and your ideas for the hotel sound great! Your enthusiasm and knowledge of what travelers are looking for sound like just what the hotel has been needing!
I think there are others, not only ourselves, who will be glad to hear that there will be a place to count on being open to stay during the winter months. We have often wanted to come to enjoy the “Christmas Card” Seldovia becomes, but do not want to open the house for only a few wintery days. The very best of luck to you and your family!
Regards, Jim and Happy
December 1, 2013
In response to November 25th article “Kris Lethin Explains Reasoning Behind His Quest for Annexation”
While the assessed value of real property outside Seldovia City limits may be greater than inside, there is much property permanently exempt from such taxation. The result is the TAXABLE VALUE of Real and Personal property outside the city limits is less than that inside; it is about 83% of the value inside. The picture is not as rosy for City Taxpayers as Mr. Lethin suggests. It is likely owners of property inside the current city limits would see an increase in taxes – perhaps small, while those outside could see a doubling or tripling of their taxes, a reduction in services or a combination.
It is not clear, at this time, whether state revenue sharing to the whole area would increase as Mr. Lethin suggests; or actually decrease. The area outside city limits currently receives revenue sharing not based on population which would be lost by annexation. The City receives Revenue sharing based on a base amount supplemented by an additional population based amount. I’d like to see Mr. Lethin produce a calculation showing the net effect of removing the one and increasing the other by increasing city population.
Property assessments are not the domain of the City Council. By State Law they are to be representative of “Fair Market Value.” Work load at the Borough assessor’s office are such they get behind from time to time and the taxpayers enjoy a respite from increased taxes while seeing the investment value of their property grow. Contrary to what was said, the city Council has been partially responsive to the burden imposed by increasing assessments. The Seldovia City Mill Rate has declined from 7.75 in 2006 to 4.6 today – a 37% decrease. Increased revenue has been apparently utilized well as the City now has a surplus in every account. Anyone who has actually operated a business effectively knows the necessary of maintaining reserves for repair and replacement. The City is actually beginning to function properly in this respect.
As well as assessing property taxes the city collects sales taxes. A simple calculation based on readily available public information suggests the sales taxes collected from those living outside city limits probably cover their per capita share of operation of the Library, Clinic, Fire, EMS, and Parks with several tens of thousands of dollars left over to cover some other services. The Harbor, Dock, Water, Sewer are all stand alone funds and to the extent we use them the costs are covered by user fees we pay.
I’m getting tired of hearing about how we outside the City Limits are getting something we don’t pay for. I would appreciate it if folks who believe that educate themselves.
Those who kick bees nests are pretty sure to be stung. This misguided effort is certain to widen the gap between factions in the Seldovia area – just wait and see.
September 6, 2013
It has been some time since we have sent out a general email, guess we
think we don’t always have anything interesting to say. But,
occasionally something comes up that makes me want to say something
that is important to me. I can’t say that my comments on this are
entirely based on logic but they may well be based more on a gut
emotional feeling of what is right.
I have been listening to the debate on the world/US response to the
Syrian use of chemical weapons. I served with in Vietnam from January
68 to January 69 in the infantry with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade.
In March of 68, elements of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade attacked
the village of Mai Lai and killed/slaughtered 500+ men women and
children. I lived there at that time and this happened because the
entire chain of command focused on body counts and weapons captures.
There were no rules for the American infantry soldier in Vietnam, at
least no rules that were enforced. We were a bunch of kids with 007
patches on our shoulders.
The American infantry soldier in Vietnam was a farm kid from Kansas, a
surfer from California and a preacher’s kid from Missouri. Great kids.
But, absent rules, absent accountability, even farm kids from Kansas,
within the context of war, are capable of behavior that is not
acceptable to our society or any civilized society.
So, while it may seem absurd to fight wars and make rules about how we
fight those wars, there have to be rules. We have to decide what those
rules are, we have to decide that when we make rules, we will enforce
I don’t know if the Congress will have the guts to do what is right
but I hope that Obama hits Assad hard, militarily, irrespective of the
vote in Congress. War is ugly enough without the use of chemical
Despite our lapses, I believe that the US represents what is best in
the world and most of the world wants what we have. It’s more a moral
question or challenge to me than it is a military challenge. I hope we
Not so much logic in that I can argue with myself but a position based
on emotion and based on personal experience. It’s perfectly OK to
argue with me.
July 8, 2013
July 6, 2013
My name is Luke Gunkel. My grandparents, Gary and Ann Gunkel, lived in
Seldovia with their family for several years in the 1970s. Gary was
the Chief of Police, and their son Mark is my father.
I’ve been living in Juneau for a couple years now, and am thinking
very seriously about finding another place in Alaska to live and work,
even for just a short time. Because I have never been to Seldovia, but
I’ve heard about how great of a community it is, I figured I would
email and ask if you knew of any employment or internship
opportunities available there in your community.
I have just graduated from University of Alaska Southeast with a
Bachelor’s degree,and have a very diverse and professional set of work
experience. I’m interested in anything!
Thank you much!
July 5, 2013
We visited Seldovia for the Fourth of July, and I wanted to write with
a big THANK YOU. I grew up in Southeast Alaska (Petersburg) and the
ferry travel/distance often keeps us from visiting coastal Alaska.
We’ve found our jewel and are working on a practical plan to have a
home there. As often as we’re able to come, we will.
Is it possible to share contact information with the priest who will
be serving there? I’m elated to read that Mass will once again be
offered. I have a lot of questions. I’d also like to help offer our
assistance to the priest, certainly our prayers, but to ask him if
there’s anything we can do to support his efforts.
Thanks for the great site. The fourth was amazing; gives me much hope
that small town Alaska is not a bygone era. In Petersburg we have a
herring toss but we’ve never seen anything like that. Our older
daughters are still giggling at the imagery of the salmon’s head
flying off. I can’t commend you enough for the work of sustaining your
My financial and recreational goals have new zing to them, after
finding you all!
June 9, 2012
Back now on Molokai Island [at least for the moment!].
Wanted to share my thoughts from the Alaska/Hawaii Islander [me] re: Seldovia real estate visit for your BIG newspaper in little Seldovia :
1) First of all, the Chissus family are GRAND ambassadors for the community … many heartfelt thanks for the warm welcome!
2) Hospitality at the “Coal House” couldn’t have been more splendid! Just need that small sitting bench near entrance … to remind visitors -like me- to get those shoes off!
3) LOVED all the many and different sitting areas [aka "parks"] in and about the community. When I see lots of park type benches in a town … that’s a good indicator the locals enjoy sitting to take-in the view and/or take time to “talk story!”
4) GREATLY enjoyed the ease of getting around all the nooks and crannies in the community. No restrictions to walk around the wharf, city dock/ferry site, school, Russian Orthodox Church, historic boardwalk, gosh … you can even walk out on the gravel airstrip/runway and look at all the general aviation aircraft [which I did]!
5) Was very grateful for the Seldovia Bible Chapel service and the sincere tribute given to Memorial Day observance.
6) Speaking of the boardwalk area, I noticed that some cruise visitors [in town for the day] … didn’t seem to think they could walk into that area. There were quite a few that hesitated [turned back around] … apparently not sure if they were intruding into private/off limits area. So I’d like to suggest to the city council to post a sign [that clarifies] that ALL are welcomed to promenade along the boardwalk. Plus, more could enjoy the lovely spot/business – “Thyme on the Boardwalk!
7) The wood creation/carving exhibition added a real thrill to 3-day weekend. All the coordination and hospitality that goes in to making that event happen … gets a 21 gun salute!
8) And I can’t go further without addressing all the four legged members of the community! It made the town so complete with seeing them all -PROUDLY-walking their masters!
9) With being from the islands [at least for the time being], I have to give kudos to the “local saloon” for having such a finely decorated tropical paradise theme! Felt like I was right back in Hawaii!
10) In closing, I was so taken by the spirit of care within the community! I walked around and observed for a good three days. I continually noticed how all ages showed such a sense of comraderie and contentment: enjoying good company/friendship and enjoying where they live. It was as though everyone realized how fortunate they are to be in such a special part of Alaska … Seldovia!
Til next communication … mahalo and much appreciation-
Sue in the Pacific