To the Editor:
On Feb 12, in all likelihood, the Anchorage Assembly will approve the 2008 Anchorage School District school bond propositions. I am optimistic that they will also be approved by voters on April 1. How can I be so sure without being too presumptuous? State reimbursement will be at 60-70 percent with taxpayers only responsible for $17 million of $43.7 million. The Anchorage School District has retired more debt over the last year than it will be issuing, no net gain in bonded indebtedness; the amount is reasonable compared to past years ($43.7 million versus many years when it has been more like $100 million). These projects have been scrutinized and vetted for years and survived the prioritization process as the most important school district capital improvement projects.
These are the kind of factors respected by voters!
There will be two propositions presented to voters; the first includes renovations to Sand Lake, Chester Valley and planning money for Girdwood K-8. The second bond will be for area-wide systems upgrades like roofs, electrical, HVAC etc. These are projects in schools across the district with a replacement life of 20 years financed from the capital budget.
The school district ten year Capital Improvement Plan calls for $300,000 this year for K-12 master planning and schematic design work on the Girdwood K-8; the following year there is a place holder for $680,400 K-8 design completion, and the year after there is a placeholder for $10,299,555 K-8 construction. This schedule is for planning purposes only. There is never any certainty where voter approved bonds and the competing interests of the Anchorage bowl are concerned—as we in Girdwood have learned over the years. But one thing is sure: an updated K-8, master plan for K-12 is a compelling need and will have benefits for many Girdwoodians.
So your understanding and support of this bonding process will be critical over the next few years. Even though we are included in an urban school district, our facility needs are more in line with bush schools where the school facilities are centers for community activity as well as education.
Feel free to call me at 783-2206 or email email@example.com for more information to discuss your concerns or to help actively support these efforts.
Lou Theiss, Girdwood
Anchorage School District
Volunteer/Capital Request Advisory Committee
Lou Theiss is the Treasurer for “School Bonds Yes!”, a ballot group, registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission with a purpose to advocate for school bonds, and his a Girdwood parent of high school student who attend the Girdwood school system.
To the Editor:
First, I want to go on record to unequivocally deny I ever did or ever would call the Redmonds a racial slur (as mentioned by Bob Redmond during his presentation at the GBOS meeting Jan. 21).
I would also like to take this opportunity to share with all Girdwoodians how the road maintenance contract works and its costs. The cost of the care of our roads is on an hourly basis. For the winter of ‘06-‘07, Girdwood paid the following rates: labor - $70./hr.; plow truck - $80/hr.; road grader - $125/hr.; and for the front end loader - $110/hr. The contractor stipulated an increase in 07-08 rates for: the plow truck to $100/hr.; the grader to $145/hr.; and the front end loader to $130/hr. The GBOS rejected the increase.
The McKenna Brothers, our new road contractor’s hourly rates for the 07-08 contract are: labor - $37/hr.; plow truck - $58.87/hr.; road grader - $103.90/hr.; and front end loader - $108.90/hr. The above are examples of the rates for a few of the approved pieces of equipment and services used in the care of our roads.
When I decided to serve in this volunteer position, it was my understanding that it’s our duty and responsibility to pay attention to the cost and quality of services to the community. It is the Girdwood Board of Supervisor’s responsibility to manage a 1.6 plus million dollar budget that comes directly from your pocket book.
I am proud to be able to serve our community. It is important for every citizen to give back by taking an active role in their community.
GBOS Member/Road Supervisor
To the Editor:
I read with interest your article concerning the Parks and Recreation grants (Jan. 17 issue). As the Parks and Recreation Supervisor of the Girdwood Board of Supervisors, I have been involved with these grants intimately and would like to comment, especially in reference to my colleague (and friend) Tim Cabana’s statements about possibly terminating the grant programs.
Each of the programs we voted to support this year and that have been supported by the GBOS in the past is the product of years (often decades) of work by a small number of dedicated volunteers. In the case of KEUL radio in Girdwood that person is Lewis Leonard, who has made the station his mission not just for the time it has been on the air, but for the many years before that when he was physically building the station and lining up the permits and agreements to transmit. I remember talking to Lewis nearly 30 years ago and having him describe of his dream of a radio station for Girdwood. Every DJ was trained by him, every CD was sought out by him, and in many cases his personal library of music and the libraries of volunteer DJs is what we heard. As most know, the station has been operated for years in his front yard.
In the case of the Four Valley’s Community School, we inherited the funding for a program that has served the community since 1984. It was initially funded (at a much higher level) by the State of Alaska, the Anchorage School District and the Department of Parks and Recreation. As each source of funding was cut, the community stepped in to help make up the difference, but more importantly, the core of volunteers who keep it going stepped up their fundraising to keep the year-round program and the coordinator position funded. These folks have worked hard for many years and provide a wonderful experience for Girdwood. They deserve community support.
Both of these programs and the others we support with our tax dollars are examples of what economists call a “public good.” Parks and libraries are good examples of these. These institutions have been provided for citizens since the inception of the city-state thousands of years ago. Citizens recognize that public goods provide cheap or (usually) free services and enhancements to the quality of life for all community members, and that they, by design, generate little revenue themselves and must receive public support to exist.
Furthermore, these are public goods that really are “for Girdwood.” Our community receives the incredible enriching experience of the FVCS, and we receive the KEUL signal, not people in Anchorage. Of course KEUL has a critical public safety role to perform in any kind of natural disaster. I feel strongly that we, as the beneficiaries, have the obligation to provide public support for these public goods.
In other cases, such as the Community Playground (which received about half of its funding from a Parks and Rec. grant), the KEUL roof and building renovations or the Forest Fair Park trails, the community receives durable improvements that add value to our infrastructure at a steep discount because the labor on these projects is performed by volunteers. In every case the Parks and Recreation Grants are an investment in the quality of life for all of us, and a big part of what make Girdwood a unique place.
In closing, I would like to re-emphasize that Mr. Cabana’s idea about the future of these grants does not represent the opinion of the Board, and that no Board vote or public discussion has occurred on the future of the grant program. I would encourage everyone with an opinion on this subject to contact the GBOS or individual members to tell us how you feel.
The continued financial health of these public goods is paramount to me. As a private citizen I plan to continue to volunteer my time to these organizations, and I would like to encourage everyone else to do the same. They are long-standing Girdwood institutions well deserving of our financial support.
GBOS Parks and Recreation Supervisor
To the Editor:
Thank you for bringing the funding issues for our local non-profits to your readers (front page story Jan. 17 issue). Please allow me to correct some errors, the most egregious of which is the one attributed to Supervisor Jim Henderson. It states that he was the lone vote against funding the Girdwood Community Club and radio station KEUL-FM. This is simply not true.
At the December meeting of the Girdwood Board of Supervisors (GBOS), Mr. Henderson both seconded the motion and voted for the motion to award the Girdwood Community Club and KEUL 75 percent of their grant request. Mr. Henderson offered no discussion on the subject at that meeting. This is written in the minutes of that meeting available online at www.muni.org/gbos. This is also in the audio recordings of the meeting, which were recorded by two independent sources: the GBOS secretary and KEUL. All of the grants were awarded by a unanimous vote of the board, all members present.
After the Board of Supervisor’s meeting of Monday, Jan. 21, I asked Mr. Henderson if he told Ken Smith of the Turnagain Times, and writer of the article, that he voted against the Community Club’s non-profit grant, and Mr. Henderson said that he did state that he voted ‘no.’ I told him that the record shows that he voted ‘yes.’ He stated that he thought he voted ‘no.’ I said that at the Dec. 17 monthly meeting of the board of supervisors not only did you vote ‘yes,’ but you also seconded the resolution to grant money to the Community Club. Mr. Henderson said, “then you should write him and tell him that.” I said, ‘no,’ “you should write him and tell him that yourself.”
This misinformation appears in paragraphs one and seven, setting the conflict-driven tone for both the headline and the rest of the article in which KEUL received 71 percent or 30 of 42 column inches of the story.
The Girdwood Community Club has successfully participated in GBOS non-profit grant funding for 11 years since 1998. This corrects the error in paragraph 2, which states the Community Club has only been receiving grants since 2005.
The Municipality of Anchorage has been supporting recreation in Girdwood since City/Borough of Anchorage unification in 1976 through our local Parks and Recreation tax service district, which has also given grants to local organizations since at least 1984.
This refutes the erroneous information presented at the December GBOS meeting by Diana Stone Livingston, reported in paragraph two, that says Municipal support didn’t extend to Girdwood, so the city added a $90,000 grant for the GBOS to allocate as they see fit. In fact, until 2006 the total grant funds were capped at $30,000. Diana ought to have known this because she was the GBOS Parks and Recreation person and grant committee chairperson for the 2003 granting process where the total funding was $29,700.
President Girdwood Community Club Inc./KEUL Radio