Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly unanimously rejected a resolution opposing a statewide sales tax Monday. Assembly members said they were concerned the measure was premature.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called on the Alaska Legislature to come up with a plan to balance the state budget. One proposal includes a 2% statewide sales tax.
The proposed joint resolution between the Borough Assembly and city councils from Ketchikan and Saxman originated from a Sept. 23 meeting of the borough’s lobbying committee. Officials from all three municipalities worried that a sales tax would hurt Southeast Alaska communities that are still recovering from the financial impacts of the pandemic.
But at Monday’s meeting, assembly members said they thought the measure was premature. Assembly member Bynum cited issues with both the content and implied demands of the resolution.
“I think this resolution isn’t just saying ‘Don’t do something,’ but it’s also urging action to our legislative body. And that’s not something I’m prepared to do tonight,” he said.
Assembly Member David Landis sits on the committee that brought the proposal forward. He said he felt that the format of the resolution strayed from the point, overcomplicating and diluting the assembly’s primary demand.
“It seems like we’re getting mired in details of solving the state’s fiscal plan by what we include or don’t include in the resolution that really all we’re trying to do is say, ‘Hey, we already have a sales tax, we don’t want something on top of that. Do something else.’ Then now we get all sorts of ideas about what that something else is. And, you know, I just don’t think that we’re going to solve the state’s fiscal plan by making sure this resolution is just right,” he said.
Assembly members also voted unanimously to remove language opposing a sales tax from a list of policy and capital project priorities. The rest of the borough’s yearly requests to the Legislature and governor — including school upgrades and a new public safety building in Saxman — passed unanimously.
Before adjourning, Borough Mayor Rodney Dial, recognized the Assembly Members who were completing their terms. Both Assembly Member Sven Westergard, who attended his last meeting on Sept. 20 as well as Assembly Member Felix Wong were given their goodbyes and were praised for their work. They’ll be replaced by the winners of the Oct. 5 election.