The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has again indefinitely postponed action on a proposed tobacco tax within borough boundaries.
A similar measure was indefinitely tabled last year after much debate. This proposal was somewhat different, partly in the amount of the tax: $2 a pack instead of $3; and partly because a portion of its proceeds was to be dedicated to tobacco cessation programs.
The tax ordinance passed the Assembly in first reading in February, but a vote on the second reading was delayed from the March 7th meeting. There was no discussion Monday before the Assembly voted 5-1 in favor of indefinitely postponing the measure.
That means that it is off the table for consideration.
Assembly Member Stephen Bradford voted against postponing the tobacco tax. Assembly Member Felix Wong was absent.
Also Monday, the Assembly indefinitely postponed an ordinance that would have established fees charged to the Ketchikan School District for use of borough-owned recreational facilities.
Assembly Member Glen Thompson says the issue of contractual or in-kind services has become divisive, and he would like to see a better plan that allows the School Board more opportunity for input. He says an earlier ordinance that lays out the contractual services process should be reworked with that goal in mind.
Thompson suggests that the School Board provide the numbers it believes is appropriate for in-kind services, and submit that with the district’s annual budget.
“It puts the school district in the driver’s seat, saying these are the in-kind contributions we believe we should include in our budget and if the borough disagrees, we can get that conversation started,” he said. “Everybody’s got to have their testimony in, and this borough, the Assembly can make the decision, as we’re supposed to, to carve up the baby and figure that out.”
Assembly Member John Harrington says he’d rather postpone the measure to a specific date, rather than indefinitely, so that it remains active. He was in the minority, though, and the motion to postpone indefinitely passed 5-1 with Harrington casting the only no vote.
Later, the Assembly unanimously approved a resolution changing the fee schedule for
the borough’s animal protection department. Among the changes is a new multi-year dog license that expires at the same time as a dog’s rabies vaccination, rather than every year.
The new fees also make adopting puppies and kittens a little more expensive than adult animals.
Harrington was on the committee that recommended the changes.
“Given the choice between a puppy and a dog, the puppy gets taken every time,” he said. “To ask a little more money to adopt a puppy means people think a little longer about, maybe even get that adult dog. Kittens, the same way. Also the manager and the animal control director have the ability to alter these prices as need be, if we get a glut of cats or puppies or dogs.”
The cost of adopting a puppy will be $200. A dog over 4 months old will be $125. Kittens will cost $120 each or $180 for two; adult cats will cost $50 each, or $75 for two.
The shelter also will start microchipping pets that are adopted from its facility.
The next Ketchikan Borough Assembly meeting is April 4.