No one brings more borough government experience to the mayor’s race than Dale Bagley. He’s already served two terms as borough mayor, from 1999 to 2005.
That was sandwiched in between stints on both the borough assembly and the Soldotna city council, where he got his first taste of local politics back in 1994. In 2017, one of the main issues is the borough budget, which was adopted this year with a $4 million deficit.
There have been a lot of ideas about how to eliminate that deficit; raising various taxes or cutting some spending. Bagley says the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
“I think at the end of the day, because we also have to deal with our assembly, regardless of what (my) personal view as mayor (is), you still have to work with the nine member legislative body of the assembly. I think at the end of the day it’s still going to be a combination of cuts and raises on taxes that are going to solve this problem.”
And one of those tax questions will be answered by voters the same day they choose a new mayor: should the borough raise the sales tax cap from $500 to $1,000. It’s estimated that charging sales tax on transactions up to $1,000 would raise about $3 million annually, which would go straight to education funding. Bagley says the question is at what point does sales tax compel someone to go to Anchorage for a big purchase as opposed to spending money locally.
“I see it from my industry, going back to wearing my real estate hat, there is a tax on commissions. For the most part that’s always maxed out. So you see an increase for services, not just for real estate but any professional service you use there’s that tax. There are people paying that increase and it does raise some money for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.”
He says the other ballot measure getting a lot of attention, Prop 1 which asks whether or not to ban cannabis businesses in the borough outside the cities, he’ll be fine with either way.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ll respect the wishes of the voters. As mayor, I’ll have to deal with the issue either way. If the ‘no’ votes win, then we will keep on administering cannabis on the Kenai Peninsula. So from that perspective, I want to stay neutral on it and deal with either scenario depending upon what the voters. And I think it’s important to respect the wishes of the voters and we’ll see what they say.”
Bagley made his comments on the most recent edition of the Kenai Conversation. In the coming weeks, we’ll also hear from the other two candidates for mayor, Linda Farnsworth Hutchings and Charlie Pierce.