Local News

City Council rejects seasonal sales tax

The City of Ketchikan’s sales tax structure will stay the same year round following Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council meeting. The Council rejected a proposal to create a seasonally adjusted sales tax that would have taken advantage of the busy summer tourist season.

Council Member Matt Olsen had suggested that the city abolish its 3.5 percent year-round sales tax, replacing it with a summer tax of 4 percent and a winter tax of 3 percent.

Finance Director Bob Newell told the Council that if such a proposal had been in place last year, the city would have collected nearly $500,000 more.

Mayor Lew Williams III said the idea drew some criticism during public comment.

“We had people coming to the podium last night, especially local businesses, that brought up some things (about) how is can hurt our economy, also,” he said. “Right now, our summer economy is our big economy for the whole year. A lot of them were worried that it would make us the highest sales tax in Southeast, and they’re concerned especially, not only the locals, but the people coming through on the boats, would think they can get a better deal somewhere else.”

The motion failed 2-5, with Olson and Council Member Marty West voting yes.

Also on Thursday, the Council delayed a vote on revising the deed conditions for the Ketchikan Indian Community Deer Mountain hatchery. Williams said there were rumors that KIC planned to discontinue the hatchery and turn the facility into a heritage center.

“But from what I’ve been hearing from people at KIC, it’s the old raptor center that they want to take down and then recreate a heritage center, not the hatchery,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of confusion out there on what they want to do, and they want to make a presentation at the next meeting on the 21st.”

The tribe needs clear title to the property in order to qualify for federal loans.

The next regular City Council meeting is Feb. 21.

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