Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly will consider Monday whether to formally oppose a statewide sales tax. Members are set to debate a joint resolution between the Borough Assembly and the city councils of Saxman and Ketchikan.
Alaska’s Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in special session Monday. The governor has tasked lawmakers with coming up with a long-term fiscal plan after years of spending have drained state savings accounts. Among the proposals for balancing the budget is a statewide sales tax.
The text of the resolution says previous budget-balancing efforts made by the state have directly impacted Southeast Alaska. For example, the resolution says the state’s reduction in funding to the Alaska Marine Highway System has hindered transportation and raised costs for residents.
The resolution also argues that the state has shifted significant costs to the local level. One listed example is school bond debt reimbursement, a state subsidy for school buildings and other improvements. The governor has vetoed the program in recent years. And the resolution says that’s meant an additional cost of more than $1 million as the borough has been left to fill the funding gap.
The resolution also says local sales tax rates are some of the highest in the state. Officials worry that a statewide sales tax on top of that would mean lower sales for businesses and reduced revenue for local governments.
In other business, Ketchikan’s assembly is scheduled to discuss its legislative and capital project priorities for the coming year.
The borough’s Lobbying Executive Committee, which includes members from the area’s three governing bodies, unanimously approved the priority list of projects seeking state funding last month.
The list includes state funding for public school upgrades and projects as well as a new public safety building for Saxman. The priority list also underscores the borough’s opposition to a state sales tax and other measures that shift state costs to local governments.
Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly meets at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Borough Assembly Chambers on First Avenue. Members of the community can weigh in at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting is televised on local cable channels and is available for livestream at the borough’s website.