GUEST COMMENTARY

Vote ‘Yes’ on forming the Municipality of Skagway Borough

June 5th is a landmark day for residents of Skagway and Dyea. After an epic struggle that spanned the course of many years the State of Alaska is conducting a mail-in election that would dissolve the City of Skagway and create the newly formed Municipality of Skagway Borough. Because this is a mail-in election it is important to keep a watchful eye for any mail from the Division of Elections, and before you vote for the new assembly and mayor be sure to vote yes for the formation of the borough!

Skagway’s struggle to become a borough began in 1963 when Representative Morgan Reed successfully excluded Skagway from the Model Borough Boundary act. The community’s desire to govern itself has held firm over several decades and finally culminated in filing a petition for borough incorporation in January of 2001. After seven years of abusive and sometimes illegal activity by state officials, the petitioners prevailed. Following an extensive court process, the Supreme Court mandated that the boundary commission hold another hearing before the citizens of Skagway and reconsider the petition of the Skagway residents. The Local Boundary Commission, in a 3-2 vote, approved Skagway’s petition in January 2007.

The reasons for becoming a borough are many and they begin with the Alaska State Constitution that requires the state be divided into boroughs, organized and unorganized. The city has for many years been a part of the unorganized borough. Our choices are to remain in the unorganized borough and risk being annexed by Haines or Juneau, or form our own. By forming our own borough we ensure that our seat of government is local and that we are not governed from some other community where our voice is diminished. We achieve the highest form of regional government below the state and cannot be annexed by another regional government without our consent. In addition we will receive 10 percent of the state lands within our boundaries which will further enhance this region’s ability to grow and develop. Borough functions such as planning and zoning, and coastal zone management remain local rather than being transferred to another borough if they annexed us. Finally, we ensure efficient effective self-governance for future generations!

It has been suggested that forming a borough will cause tax increases for provision of borough services. This is not the case because Skagway already performs all functions that boroughs are required to provide, including school funding, planning and zoning, and coastal zone management. If, however, we were part of another borough we most likely would face additional tax burdens. Using Haines as an example, we would continue to operate as the City of Skagway but the Haines Borough sales tax would be 5.5 percent, and we would also share in the burden of non-areawide property taxes that encompass a much larger region. In essence the Skagway Borough makes good sense.

Vote Yes for the incorporation of the Municipality of Skagway and help ensure this regions future!

Absentee voting begins May 21st - June 5th at City Hall 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Thank you.
– Mayor Tim Bourcy on behalf of the petitioners