Increasing tax base in Fluetsch’s viewfinder for growing Juneau

By September 27, 2011Election Coverage
Brad Fluetsch

Brad Fluetsch (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Brad Fluetsch is usually seen around Juneau videotaping or webstreaming presentations and events for his video production company and website. It’s not a huge moneymaker yet. He considers it training for his own financial program someday, and he predicts – hopes — that it’s on the leading edge of the fusion of internet interactivity and television programming.

“We’re about two years away from a complete unification,” says Fluetsch.

That’s his afternoon and evening gig. His early morning job is as financial advisor, keeping track of the East Coast markets for his personal and corporate clients.

Son of a Tlingit mother formerly of Wrangell – a Kiksadi from the Sun house — and a Swiss father, Fluetsch describes being born and raised on a hobby farm near Olympia. He says he graduated from Washington State University in business administration with a major in finance, and then went to work as an accountant for a fish processor. Eventually, he arrived in Juneau working as financial analyst for Sealaska corporation, then as an investment officer for the Alaska Permanent Fund, and now in his own one-person firm.

Fluetsch is running for the Assembly’s District 1 seat because of where the City and Borough of Juneau has been heading.

“This is not a good trend,” says Fluetsch. “Some of our neighbors have been contracting and we’re stagnant.”

Some keys to changing that trajectory, he says, include protecting and enhancing Juneau as a capital city, marketing Juneau to high-technology and light manufacturing industries, developing new electricity and energy sources, and bringing down the high cost of living and cost of housing to prompt modest growth. Fluetsch believes that opening up the land base could spur that growth as well as bring in more property tax revenue and help narrow the expected continued deficit in the CBJ budget.

“Obviously, if we had more property that wasn’t owned by the city, we’d have more property in private hands and subject to property tax,” says Fluetsch. Eventually with more occupied housing, he says there would be more sales tax collected.

Fluetsch supports reauthorizing the temporary three-percent sales tax on the October 4th ballot, but he thinks the community needs to reconsider taxing necessary food items, as well as electricity, heating oil, and water and sewer utility costs. As for taxing plastic bags, he says that’s the wrong approach.

“I can understand why you don’t want it in the enviroment,” says Fleutsch. “As long you’re getting it here, let’s use it in a positive way and generate some energy.”

Fluetsch is not very enthusiastic about an Assembly-backed proposal implementing the CBJ’s own set of financial disclosure rules. He says he wasn’t scared away from running for the Assembly by the current state rules.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” says Fluetsch. “And don’t incur an expense that you don’t need to.”

Fluetsch sees the AJ Mine as a valuable asset, but he hasn’t made a judgment yet on its reopening; He says he’s waiting for the Assembly to finish with the permit process. But he believes an alternative water source only makes sense, with or without the mine.

“When you have all your eggs in one basket as we do in our water system, that’s never a good place to be.”

This is at least the second time that Fluetsch has made a run for municipal office. The last time was running against incumbent Mayor Bruce Botelho in 2006. Fluetsch has also served various positions with the Alaska Native Brotherhood, such as past Grand Camp president and current Grand Camp treasurer, and Camp 70 past-president and current sergeant-at-arms.

Fluetsch is running for Assembly representing District 1, which includes Douglas Island, downtown Juneau, the Lemon and Switzer Creek neighborhoods. So far, he’s filed for an exemption from state campaign disclosure reporting, meaning he doesn’t intend to raise or spend more than 5-thousand dollars during the campaign. He’s running against Jesse Kiehl for the seat.

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