THE ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
With the city putting on a full-court press to rake in more money from a proposed 5 percent retail alcohol tax and two general sales taxes, you have to wonder what kind of spending the new levies would underwrite.
Here’s one thing: New tax revenues would pay for a “full-time public engagement officer and/or consultant” who would “do the following engagement activities,” the Assembly says:
• Create and maintain a scrolling agenda for Assembly meetings;
• Work on a newsletter format for Assembly members;
• Social media outreach;
• Fact sheets on various ordinances or topics as appropriate; and,
• Press releases on agendas, town halls, ordinances, etc.to keep the public informed.
In other words, the Assembly would get a new flack. How in the world did the city get along all this time without one for the Assembly? How is it the members of the Assembly cannot do their own newsletter formats, or social media outreach or come up with fact sheets and press releases and such?
Why should taxpayers have to hire somebody do it?
The tax proposals which sprang up out of no place just in time for the holidays, include the already-rejected, but dusted off and reborn 5 percent retail tax on alcohol. It supposedly would bring in up to $15 million a year. Voters would be asked to again exempt the tax from the city charter’s required 60 percent-vote to allow adoption by simple majority.
Then, there is the proposed “temporary” 3 percent general sales tax to raise $375 million over five years to pay for mostly downtown capital projects. Who are its backers? Who is funding the effort to put the tax on the ballot? Who knows?
Finally, there is a six-year, 3 percent sales tax offered by Chugiak-Eagle River Assemblyman Fred Dyson. It would offset property taxes and fund public safety, he says.
All of that would be in addition to the $1 billion the city is about to receive for the sale of the Municipal Light & Power utility to Chugach Electric.
The desire to hire a flack for the Assembly with the proposed tax proceeds only underscores the fact that these sales taxes are being pushed by those pushing a “want” agenda, not a “need” agenda.
If one of the levies actually makes the ballot in April, voters should tell the Assembly to do its own work.