Three proposals to rework Ketchikan’s sales tax are up for City Council discussion on Thursday. It’s an effort to boost revenue to fund pay raises for city workers that the council approved last month.
One option is to simply hike the city’s 4% sales tax by half a point. (The total sales tax rate within city limits, including the borough’s 2.5% tax, would rise to 7%.) That would raise about $1.4 million annually. But the city’s finance director writes in a memo that it wouldn’t be enough to fund the raises the council has already approved for the next three years.
Option two is one the council discussed at its last meeting — raising the sales tax by one point to 5% during the summer tourism season from April through September. That would bring in about $1.9 million a year — just enough to cover the already-approved raises for electrical workers and non-union employees. But officials warn that it likely won’t be enough to fund new contracts for firefighters and police officers that are expected later this year.
The third and final option is one suggested by Councilmember Abby Bradberry last month: a 6% summer sales tax with a 3% winter rate. That would bring in the most — $2.9 million a year — which is expected to be enough to cover first responders’ raises.
Acting City Manager Lacey Simpson recommends the council go forward with the last proposal.
In other business, the council is scheduled to approve a final contract with the city’s incoming manager, Delilah Walsh. The council settled on Walsh after interviewing four finalists last month. She’s currently the utility manager for the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Walsh would be paid $215,000 a year, get a city-funded car, and be reimbursed for up to $20,000 in moving expenses. She would get 20 vacation days a year.
Simpson recommends approving the contract.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. Members of the public have a chance to weigh in at the beginning of the meeting. It’s livestreamed on the city’s website and local cable channels.