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Past, Present, and Future

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What We've Accomplished (in depth)

For brief version, click here

In the twelve years since ITA was organized to benefit
the taxpayers in the interior of Alaska, we have done the following:


Fought Sales Taxes:

When the Council arbitrarily imposed sales taxes, we paid attorneys to draw up petitions and expended hundreds of hours collecting signatures to force the issue to the ballot. When the Council repeatedly ignored the vote of the people and continued to pass sales tax ordinances, we continued to give city residents the right to vote, and each time sales taxes were defeated.

Instituted a City Tax Cap:

With the end of the pipeline boom forcing private sector wages down, city residents found themselves still supporting inflated public employee wages. To finance further raises (with no corresponding drop in government spending) taxes kept increasing. ITA introduced initiatives to put a revenue cap in the city charter (where only a vote of the people could remove it). Now the people, not the Council, determine the level of government. Petitions were actually filled and voted on twice, the second time after the courts threw out the first cap when records supporting its institution mysteriously disappeared from the City Clerk's Office.

Rolled Back Property Taxes:

Because the City Council had hurriedly raised property taxes when the first cap was thrown out, the ITA also sponsored a "roll back" initiative which allowed city residents to vote to return their property taxes to the level in effect when the paperwork disappeared. City property taxes decreased from 7 mills to 2.8 mills as a result of that action. Since then, we have continued to seek economies of government which would lower the city budget, and hence city property taxes.

Tightened the City Tax Cap:

The City Tax Cap needed clarification, in another area. Some Councilmen interpreted that cap as only covering property tax, and attempted to enact other types of taxes, without giving you the right to vote. Since the cap is permanent in the City Charter, we only needed to do an initiative to put a clarification in the charter to make it absolutely clear that the cap is a cap on all revenues. We did the initiative and it passed easily. Now, if a sales tax is instituted without your vote, some other source of revenue, such as property taxes, must be lowered.


Fought Sales Taxes:

When the Borough initiated a sales tax, ITA sponsored a referendum so Borough residents could vote on it. Without waiting for the vote, the borough fought the right of the people to file the referendum, and began collecting the taxes. ITA had to hire an attorney and go to court for a restraining order to stop collection. ITA won in the end, after taking the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. When the vote was finally taken, sales tax was defeated in the Borough.

Successfully Petitioned for a Borough Tax Cap:

Unlike the City, the Borough is governed by state law and does not have a charter, where a "people instituted" cap could be permanently inserted. Instead, state law protects, for two years, all ordinances instituted by the people through the mechanism of initiative or referendum. Five times we have sponsored the revenue cap which keeps your taxes from soaring without your consent.

Clarified and Renewed the Borough Tax Cap:

Our "tax cap" is actually a revenue cap. It sets up guidelines limiting the amount of revenue that can be raised to the amount raised the previous year, with exceptions we were required by law to include. This ordinance was brought to the voters originally by an initiative action by the people. State law holds that if the voters approve an ordinance brought by petition, it is protected for two years against any change or repeal. Because after two years the governing body can vote it into oblivion (without again bringing it to the voters), the only way to protect it has been to repeat the initiative action every two years. 1995 was the year to renew the cap, but due to confusion of the voters, coupled with an unusually low voter turn-out, the very popular cap was narrowly defeated. The old cap did not go away, but was no longer protected. The Assembly could modify or repeal it at any time.


Over the years, the Borough Tax Cap has helped us to keep borough spending under control, allowing the borough very little leeway to increase our taxes without the peoples' permission. However, it hadn't served us as well as it should. Consequently, with the help of our attorney Peter Aschenbrenner, we made some technical changes to the revenue cap in 1995, which would result in a tighter, better cap, much less prone to misinterpretation. This was the cap put on by the voters in the 1996 Municipal election. The new cap replaced the old, leaving the Assembly to remove the old one. One major addition is a requirement to publish the tax cap calculations for the public, as Anchorage has been doing for years.

According to Aschenbrenner, "Additional changes. . . include provisions to insure that as bonds are paid off, the cap will fall, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, net of state debt service reimbursement."

What we asked of the voters was a new, improved Tax Cap, with its full two year protection, to replace the old cap which had lost its protection. We were not attempting to remove the cap to allow your taxes to rise without your input!

We wanted to limit government, not the people.

Once it was legally clarified, we were again at the Tanana Valley State Fair seeking signatures of registered voters on our petitions to renew the Borough tax cap for another two years. Thousands sought us out and helped us complete the signature drive, so the issue was placed on the October 8th ballot, as Proposition C. Again, as in the previous year, the ballot wording was confusing to the voters, but it needed a YES vote to put the tightened cap in place, and it got it. The new revised revenue cap is now in place and safe for another two years.

Election Involvement:

While the 1996 candidates ITA endorsed for Borough Assembly and School Board (who all supported the tax cap) were not successful in the election, we did retain two very important City Council seats; those currently occupied by Jerry Cleworth, and John Immel. We had some good candidates to fill Assembly and School Board seats, but ITA could not do it alone, we needed the help of all the voters to get them elected. We always encourage each and every one of you to do all that is in your power to get involved in any way you can and work to help bring both the city and the borough back to a citizen's government that will, in fact, represent us all.

ITA at the Fair

In 1997, ITA once again had a booth at the Tanana Valley State Fair, in the Borealis building. For the first time, it was a corner booth. Just before the fair opened, Layne St. John (a term limited member of the Borough Assembly) introduced ordinances to remove term limits from the Mayor and Assembly. Acting quickly, ITA filed an initiative action to allow the voters to decide if term limits should be lifted or not (after all, it was the voters who had approved term limits in 1990!) We collected signatures on the petition at the fair, handed out information to educate new residents, and registered new voters as well.

ITA Sweeps the Election!

The October 7th election of 1997 saw ITA endorsed candidates winning every seat but one. See our Elections Page for more details. The Borough Mayor's race went to a runoff election when a former assemblyman came in a few percentage points ahead of the one ITA endorsed. Both issues passed, which ITA had supported: Term Limits were reaffirmed, and the Fairbanks Port Authority repealed.

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The Ongoing Effort:

Helping Control Property Taxes:

Initiatives and referendums are not our only endeavors. With your tax cap (really a revenue cap) in place, the Borough must lower the mill rate (hence your property taxes) if revenues from other sources increase. Since the cap is based upon the previous year's income, lowering the budget one year will lower the cap for the following year, which will usually mean that the property tax mill rate will decrease. Because of this, ITA has, in addition to helping you renew the Borough Tax Cap every two years, continued to monitor city and borough government to find ways to reduce the budget. Hundreds of volunteer man-hours are put in manning booths at fairs, going door to door with petitions, attending meetings, and researching local government.

Working Behind the Scenes:

Initiatives and referendums are not our only endeavors. We continue to monitor both City and Borough Government, working tirelessly to lower your taxes, or at least ensure that you get your money's worth. Individual members attend countless meetings, send letters and public opinion messages to legislators, and lobby by telephone and in person. Collectively, we publish a newsletter to let interested subscribers (members or not) know what is going on in the city and borough that might effect their taxes.

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In 1999, ITA began efforts to add a 60% approval requirement to votes on general obligation bonds in the city and borough, and the same for votes on new powers in the borough, new services in the city. We expect to be going to court to establish the voters right to do this. Donations for this effort will be appreciated and wisely spent.

What You Can Do to Help

ITA has come a long way, but we still have a lot to do. Our goal is to ensure the most cost effective government possible, and to make it affordable for everyone to live here, with enough discretionary income to enjoy it as well. If you would like to be a part of a positive approach to helping yourself and your community, please feel free to join us.

We have sometimes been called "negative" because we have been forced to fight negative things like waste and corruption in our local government. We think it can only be positive when the result is the kind of rise in public awareness that has occurred in recent years, evidenced in part by increased voter turnout in elections. We think the public's realization that they CAN make a difference is a very positive thing. We can only be proud of the small part we played in raising the percentage of participation in local government and local elections.

ITA Candidates' Forum

Our forum each year is open to everyone, but is especially designed to help our members decide whom to endorse for the local elections. No canned questions are used; the audience is welcome to ask their own questions. After the forum, members vote on endorsements. Endorsements are based mainly on how fiscally responsible we believe the candidates to be, and on whether or not the ballot propositions will impact taxpayers of the interior. Read our newsletter or check out our web page for dates for this year's forum.

ITA on the Internet

The fall of 1996 saw ITA join the World Wide Web, now at where our web site, while never quite finished, nevertheless addressed all issues and candidates we supported. Also included at our site is an e-mail address, a membership blank, and this document. Future plans include a breaking news feature to keep friends updated on the latest news to impact their taxes. You are welcome to send us an e-mail at with your suggestions to make our page even more relevant and informative.

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Join us in the fight for more responsible local government. We have committees that always need volunteer members, we are always on the lookout for information (already many in government bring us inside information we need, often anonymously), put your money where your mouth is, and above all, vote every election, but be sure it is an informed vote!

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Candidate endorsements on this Web Site are not authorized, paid for, nor approved by any candidate. ITA, as a non-profit organization, does not give money to candidates. ITA is solely responsible for the content of everything appearing on these pages unless otherwise noted. We believe in the truth and are proud of our research. We stand ready to back up anything we say here, with the originating documents if necessary. However, we will not be responsible for inaccuracies found in other's documentation.

Paid for by The Interior Taxpayers' Association, Inc. PO Box 71892, Fairbanks AK 99707,
Donna Gilbert, President  ITA Phone (907) 456-8031.
Last updated
 Saturday, October 31, 2009 Web Site maintained by ITA volunteers. Please send E-mail to   for problems found or suggestions.