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ably the Bureau of Public Roads is the one to do it. However, like so many other Government agencies, they have been strapped for funds.
Every time we try to pin down or write to some Government agency to find out who is going to do something about the slide area, we immediately get the runaround. The Alaska Road Commission tells us that is under the jurisdiction of the Public Roads because it is a military access road. They counter by saying, “We think the Alaska Road Commission is charged with maintenance of this road, so they should do something about it.” It even has been suggested the military do something about it. They are quite concerned. However, under the limitations of their appropriations they haven't been able to do anything about it.
I would like to tell you in summary that, first of all, our community is suffering from a lack of roads and then also from the poor condition of our present road system.
We know that with better roads we will be able to open our grazing. It would even help our fishing in some instances if we had a better road system.
I want to call your attention that the maintenance on vehicles in Kodiak has been very high due to our road system. The best life that can be expected from a car in Kodiak is 50,000 miles, and that is about a third of what the standard would be stateside, I am told. Tire wear is 7,000 miles on the average, which is very low.
I believe I speak for the community when I tell you ladies and gentlemen that we know we are an isolated community and because of this we suffer from direct support. If we were there on the scene where the bureaus operate, I think we would be of more influence in getting assistance on the road system. Due to the fact we are isolated, we are of the opinion-I think I speak for everyone in this roomwe haven't been getting our fair share of the road-construction program taking place under the Government agencies.
Mr. O'BRIEN. That car with the short life, tires with the short life, also costs substantially more than the same car and tires would cost in the States?
Mr. Johnson. I would say the freight cost on a car is around $250. The tire costs would probably be $4 or $5 higher.
Mr. O'BRIEN. The highway bill which was before Congress the last session, which did not pass, made no provision for Alaska; did it?
Mr. JOHNSON. I don't believe so.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Except that Alaska should pay more taxes and help the roads in the States.
Mr. JOHNSON. That is right.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I am very sure we are going to have some kind of a highway bill before us in the coming session. Do you have any suggestion as to how that could be worded to provide benefits to Alaska?
Mr. Johnson. I think that our big problem is that when Alaska benefits we don't always benefit in a direct relation due to the fact that we are isolated and the people that are in charge of building roads in Alaska don't realize that Kodiak is badly in need of roads. They think too much of the network road system in the interior, which is fine. I know they need it.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Even if they provided a certain sum for Alaska, you wouldn't have any guaranty it would permeate to you?
Mr. Johnson. That is right.
Mr. Sisk. The makeup of the Alaska Road Commission. How is representation determined on that? I mean so that this area might have a voice in the dispersal of any funds.
Mr. JOHNSON. We don't have a representative on the Commission. All that we actually have is the local manager, who is the superintendent of the Alaska Road Commission, as such, in Kodiak. Of course, he can make recommendations. However, how well taken they are I wouldn't know.
Mr. SISK. That is all.
Mr. TAYLOR. This is a very fine road you have between here and the base, but is it not a product of the joint efforts of the military and the city of Kodiak?
Mr. Johnson. That is correct. I want to add that it completely depleted our funds for any further road construction.
Discussion off the record.)
Mr. BARTLETT. You tell us, Mayor Johnson, there has not been any substantial improvement of your general highway system since it was constructed by the military?
Mr. Johnson. That is correct, other than for routine maintenance.
Mr. BARTLETT. In connection with your saying Kodiak is isolated and did not get a proper voice, I think that is undoubtedly true. But you will be interested to know that the city of Anchorage made very vigorous representations before this committee that they had been discriminated against in respect to APW allocations.
I think the city, Mayor Johnson, is to be congratulated for going ahead with that paving job. It is a fine expression of cooperation between the municipality and the Navy Department, and it would seem to me that Kodiak has been more progressive than many other communities in getting things done when they needed to be done.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Bob.
I might add for the benefit of the committee that through the Navy we have been able to do this paving, only having to pay for the materials and the labor. All the equipment was approved for our use free of charge by the Department of the Navy in Washington. I certainly think that is a fine thing for our community and I don't want to let it go unsaid.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Then you would say there has been a high degree of cooperation between the community and the Navy?
Mr. JOHNSON. On the road program, I would certainly say so.
Mr. BARTLETT. I would like to say, if you will permit, Mr. O'Brien, that when this general highway bill was before the Congress I was fighting unsuccessfully to get an allocation for Alaska first. Next, I was fighting unsuccessfully to prevent our being taxed without getting any benefit, and I was alone. But I want to point out to you and to everyone else here how useful it is that this committee came to Alaska, because they have heard the story wherever we have gone and know what the situation is now. I feel confident we can count on their giving us a hand when that national bill comes up next time.
Mr. JOHNSON. I certainly feel the same way, and I know the committee has probably a different outlook on Alaska since they have gotten here. I know if we have more of them someday we will really progress the way we ought to.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I might add, for clarification, when that highway bill came before the House at least it was under a closed rule and there was no way under the sun the distinguished Delegate from Alaska could offer an amendment to include Alaska.
Mr. BARTLETT. They always foreclose us.
Mayor Johnson, I believe you are on the next team at bat on the subject of airfields.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman that was to present this testimony this morning and I was to aid him, I called him and he tells me the Territorial department level hearing is coming up on the third of October and he did not believe he had anything constructive to offer at this time on it and believed after this meeting with the Territory he would be able to offer some concrete suggestions. He begged off and left me holding the sack. I must tell you I don't have all the facts on it and I don't believe I am qualified.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Mayor, that was Bob Hall ?
Mr. BARTLETT. I would like to suggest that Mr. Hall and/or you be permitted to file a statement after the October meeting, and we will be glad to put it in the record.
Mr. JOHNSON. We shall do that.
Mr. BAKTLETT. The next witness is Jack Hinckel on the subject of Alaska public works. Mr. Hinckel, will you identify yourself for the record ?
STATEMENT OF JACK HINCKEL, KODIAK, ALASKA Mr. HINCKEL. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Jack Hinckel. I am a former mayor of the city of Kodiak, and prior to being mayor I served on the city council since 1946. Í wish to testify in favor of the continuation of the Alaska public works program, or something that will take its place,
Without the Alaska public works program the progress that the city of Kodiak has made in the past few years would have been impossible. In fact, most of the expansion could not have even been considered.
In 1916 we had a small 2-million-gallon reservoir that ran dry twice a year; in the summer during the dry season and again in the winter when there was no runoff during cold weather. In th-winter of 1946–47 we not only were without water but we also lost a considerable portion of our distribution system, due to the mains freezing solid after the reservoir ran dry. This happened during a time when
we had approximately one-half the number of outlets we now have and less than half the usage.
The first public works program that we applied for was the construction of a larger reservoir. We had most of the engineering work done ourselves prior to making the application, in order to speed up the processing. This project was approved and built at a cost of $304,582. In addition to this initial project we have since completed unit No. 2 of the water distribution and the sewage collection systems at a cost of $524,592 and unit No. 3 at a cost of $37,720. We are now working on unit No. 4 with a bid cost of $185,820.
Our new school is another Alaska public-works-financed program unit. The grade-school section was completed last year at a cost of $579,935.59 and we are still working on the high-school section which was bid at $821,115.81.
The total cost of these vital projects amounts to $2,750,000 and under present laws limiting bonding ability we would have had to have had a taxable wealth of $28 million to enable us to have bonded ourselves for sufficient to have undertaken these projects. Since 1946 our tax roll has increased from $2,255,000 to $9,960,940 in 1955 but we needed water and sewer systems before we could expand, build new homes, and bring in the additional population that we have.
During the same period of time the city has built sea walls and put in surface drainage and done some paving by ordinary financing from current revenues. I understand that we have APW applications in for financing of a municipal building and fire hall and for street improvements. These programs should be gone ahead with immediately but the only way they can be accomplished is through participation in some Federal program such as APW.
Alaskans are ambitious and energetic. We can grow and progress but we do not have the capital in most Alaskan cities and towns to finance the expansion of our public works which, as I have proven, has to be done first and before we can expand our industries, improve our housing, and attract investment and increased population.
We appreciate the assistance we have received but we feel that the investment that the Federal Government will have in its portion of these participating programs is a good investment for the people of the United States. We, the people of Alaska, are repaying 50 percent of the cost of the projects in amortized payments. The other 50 percent will come back many times in revenues from the increased productivity of the area. We also feel that an improved standard of living in Alaska is a vital need not only for the general good but because of the tie-in with the defense of the Nation.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I would like to make a little statement at this point, if I may, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. O'Brien.
Mr. O'BRIEN. This record, as we go around the Territory, is going to show a great many requests for governmental assistance, and lest our colleagues in Washington think all we have received is requests for help from communities which are sitting back and doing nothing for themselves, I would like to say that what I have heard here today underscores a growing belief that the communities in Alaska such as yours are doing more to help themselves than the communities in our States which have no way near the difficulties you have. In our
State we have adopted a policy recently that the State will help communities which want to help themselves, and it is almost unbelievable to me to hear how much you have done under great difficulties in this community.
I wanted that in the record so that those who read this record in Washington will know that Alaska is not looking for handouts and does not look for anything until its own means can't carry them any further.
Mr. HINCKEL. That is absolutely correct, and none of the improvements that we have made here have been grants from the Federal Government. Everything has either been done by ourselves or in some program where there was participation.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Frankly, I don't see how you do it.
Mr. Sisk. Nothing other than to concur in what our chairman, Mr.
Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Utt.
Mr. Urt. I want to ask whether or not you have not already exceeded your legal debt. Have you?
Mr. HINCKEL. Under the Alaska public works law we were permitted to. That is the reason I mentioned that: that under ordinary bonding we would have to get approval of the Congress in order to go beyond the 10 percent that the law states, but under this program we are permitted to.
Nir. UIT. What is your tax rate in millage including schools?
Mr. HINCKEL. Twenty mills. At one time we got up to 23, I believe. Twenty-two the last few years. The maximum permitted is 30.
Mr. UTT. And what percentage do you use on assessments of market value?
Mr. HINCKEL. We assess on a full valuation, based on construction costs in 1950. In 1950 we reassessed the whole town on the basis of what it would cost to build the structure at that time and then depreciate it for the age of it.
Mr. Urt. What would you say that would be as to present market value, what percentage of present market value ?
Mr. HINCKEL. Probably 85 percent.
Mr. UTT. So actually you have pretty close to a 40 mills base according to the way we assess in the States?
Mr. HINCKEL. Yes, sir.
Mr. HINCKEL. That is true.