Letters published November 5, 2017

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Thanks to Frank Garner for standing strong

My wife, Bev, and I have known Frank Garner for a long time and we’ve always appreciated how hard he’s worked for Kalispell. I’ve seen the recent attacks on him and I’m grateful that he’s been willing to stand up for our town against the critics.

As a former city councilman and fire chief for Kalispell, I understand how hard it is to govern. I appreciate how difficult it was to pass a bill that gives the people of Kalispell some help in paying for their roads for the first time in over 30 years through the gas tax.

People in and around Kalispell have had to bear the burden of paying for those roads primarily on their property tax without help from the thousands of others that drive on them daily. I can only hope that Frank knows how much his work is appreciated by those of us that have had to foot the bill on our own.

Frank’s service to Kalispell over the past 30 plus years speaks for itself and while I know his work against other extremists in the past has likely given him thick skin, we hope he knows we are among the many that are grateful for his service. —Duane and Bev Larson, Kalispell

Osorio-Khor has earned your vote

Voters in Ward 3 should send Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Waterman a “reality check.” A majority of the Kalispell City Council in a 7 to 2 vote, including Jim Atkinson, voted to raise our annual storm water fees by over 50 percent. On the other hand, Mr. Atkinson voting again, as reported in a July 18 Daily Inter Lake article, allowed a reduction of stormwater impact fees for new businesses or developments to cover the cost of new stormwater facilities to serve them.

The City Council needs to fairly charge new growth impact fees to new growth and stop pushing this tax burden on to all city taxpayers.

Ward 3 needs a stronger voice, with solutions that are realistic, representing us on the Kalispell City Council. Kyle Waterman, simply claims that he will work to find grants and funding partners to increase city revenue. As nice as this may sound, the reality is this promise is as hollow as the City Council’s promise to find grants and funding partners to make up the gap in city revenue when the City cCouncil voted in 2012 to do away with requiring that new development pay a one-time transportation impact fee.

The council took this vote despite strong opposition from residents and Karlene Osorio-Khor as chair of the Kalispell City Impact Fee Advisory committee at the time. By removing the requirement that new growth pay a transportation impact fee, those costs since 2012 for meeting the city’s growing transportation costs have instead been shifted to all city taxpayers. I know, as with others who served with her on the committee, we resigned in protest against the council’s unwise decision.

Karlene understands fair taxation policies that will keep Kalispell a great place to live, work and start a business

Another thing you should know about Karlene is she has been volunteering and working tirelessly to make Kalispell a great city for years. Did you know it was Karlene Khor who stepped up to chair and provide critical leadership for the Save Central School Committee, which led the efforts to save this building and create the Museum at Central School? The museum is now a cherished community facility, thanks to Karlene’s leadership and that of many others who served and worked with her on saving and restoring this facility.

Karlene Osorio-Khor has earned your vote. Vote for Karlene! —Roxanne Brothers, Kalispell

Whitefish plan for annexation is unfair

My name is Ben Cavin. I live in the Houston Lakeshore Tract, formerly part of the famous Whitefish doughnut whose zoning case was ultimately resolved against the city of Whitefish by the Montana Supreme Court.

The city of Whitefish in a resolution dated Sept 18, 2017, now indicates it intends to “consider” annexing me to the city along with 48 other properties. In my case alone, if annexed, I will have to pay approximately another $2,000/year in taxes and the city will receive an additional $5,000 per year revenue and for what?

So what does the city have to do to get all this additional revenue? It has to have a “plan” (which I understand they have had for years) and the city doesn’t even ever have to implement this “plan.” And as far as we residents know, the city has no plans to ever implement their “plan” — which “plan” they have not provided to me and my 48 neighbors. Grossly unfair!

The Montana Code itself recognizes the unfairness of this situation. See Montana Code Sections 7-2-4702 & 4703, which among many other important things, say:

“current annexation laws … are in many cases discriminatory…”

Obviously, a violation of “equal protection under the law” under the U.S. Constitution.

Since the Montana Code itself recognizes there is unfairness in its own terms, the Montana Legislature clearly needs to get the Code corrected — not just identify there is a dichotomy in their own law.

To be clear, the city relies on Code 7-2-4506 which says all the city needs is a “plan.”

As chairman of Houston Lakeshore Tract Owners Against Annexation I have recently interviewed many of my neighbors. Not one supports annexation. What I find is that annexation will bring severe enmity against the city by many of those neighbors.

Thus annexing my neighbors and me is patently unfair, and I hope this letter helps Whitefish reconsider its position. —Benton C. Cavin, Whitefish, chairman, Houston Lakeshore Tract Owners Against Annexation

Too-cheap senior pass is part of the problem for national parks

Though I am writing as an individual and not for the organization, as a long time board member of the Glacier Fund and now the Glacier Conservancy, the guest editorial by the L.A. Times about what to do about the national parks is only half right.

Yes, the numbers visiting Glacier Park are unsustainable if we care about the wildlife and the natural resources, and limiting entry as they are proposing in Zion may well be a partial solution.

No, user fees are way too low to even fractionally sustain the operations and backlog of critical projects waiting for attention. But the problem is not the general admission for adults and children; it is the senior pass (62 and over) that is the big problem.

If you go to an NFL game, you pay an average of $350/game. For the NBA average price is $96/game. Major League Baseball is $52/game. A year long senior pass to all the parks is $20. One half a tank of gas to visit every National Park for a year! Worse, lifetime senior passes cost $80 (or two tanks of gas).

On a real dollar basis, the national parks’ budgets have actually decreased for the past decade. Why? The federal government spends $660 BILLION more annually than it is receiving in taxes and revenue. The deficits and resulting debt buildup are unsustainable, and users are going to have to pay to support the parks, just as they pay to go to a movie, or to fly in an airplane.

We at the Glacier Conservancy are doing our best to use philanthropy to help plug this gap. But …

There is no such thing as a free lunch. —Nick Chickering, Whitefish

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