ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
The Anchorage Assembly has scheduled a work session this afternoon on the proposed ordinance that would lead to imposition of a flat 5 percent retail sales tax on all alcohol sales in the city.
The proposal would, in the case of this particular tax, do away with the city charter’s mandate that a sales tax requires a voter-adopted 60 percent supermajority – and replaces it with a 50 percent-plus-one requirement – and allows the Assembly to implement the tax by ordinance.
The ordinance – predicted to raise about $13 million a year – was proposed by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Assembly Vice-Chairman Eric Croft, Assemblymen Dick Traini, and Felix Rivera.
It receipts purportedly would be “dedicated to alcohol and substance misuse prevention and treatment, community behavioral health programs, public safety, and homelessness prevention and response, including abatement of prohibited campsites.” A memorandum detailing the proposal says it also would allow use for capital projects and “construction activities for a potential Alaska Center for Treatment, or secure private investment by providing guaranty funds in the Pay for Success initiative.”
What it does not guarantee anywhere is that the 5 percent tax would remain a 5 percent tax, and there is no guarantee its receipts will not be used for something else in the next administration or the one after that. Additionally, the proposal strips voters of their voter-approved charter protection from sales taxes in this case and hands that power to the Assembly.
The proposed tax is just another bad idea. If the tax is a good idea – and it most certainly is not – why not let voters deal with it under the existing 60 percent provision in the charter?