Girdwood voters are split on paying for local police protection. The unofficial outcome of Tuesday’s municipal election indicates that about half of the community’s voters are willing to pay additional property taxes to cover the costs of law enforcement, while the other half are not.
Proposition 9, the muni ballot initiative providing police protection for Girdwood, is too close to call.
When polls closed Tuesday, Yes votes had 49.7 percent of the ballot, NO votes had 50.2 percent, with only four votes standing between the two outcomes. Sam Daniel is co- chair of the Girdwood Board of Supervisor’s and a co-chair of a community public safety task force. He said Wednesday [today] that residents may have not had all the information on the issue.
“I think there is a reluctance for the community to take on more taxes. I also believe that there is a perception that somehow the Whittier police department is not able to provide the level of service that people would like to see. And I quite frankly think that is mis-founded. The Whittier police department is actually very well trained and qualified and that we would get good service if we had them here. But that is certainly a perception that may have impacted the vote. ”
Girdwood’s Alaska State Trooper post closes July 1, due to state budget cuts. The community’s board of supervisors has for over a year explored plans to provide local law enforcement. One option the board is considering is partnering with Whittier’s police department. [In February of this year, the City of Whittier passed a resolution approving the police partnership.]
Daniel says the ballot returns are sending a strong message.
“I think we had a really good process, there was good turnout for all of our meetings, and I think that we had very sucessfully discharged our responsibility. And at this point, unless the vote changes, the community is sending a message that says that they would prefer that the Girdwood Board of Supervisors is not to be involved in public safety. And unless the vote changes, that is going to be our charge, to stand down. ”
About 900 questioned ballots city-wide remain to be counted before the Muni election is certified on April 19. It is not known how many of them are from Girdwood. The outcome for Prop 9 rests on a simple majority, not a percentage of the ballot count.
Under Prop 9, Girdwood Valley Service Area property owners would pay 1.18 mils additional to the current muni mill rate to pay for community law enforcement.
The average cost to homeowners would be $118 per assessed value of $100, 000 a year for Girdwood taxpayers.
If the ballot measure passes, police protection starts on July 1 of this year, with the means of providing protection to be determined by the Girdwood Board of Supervisors.