Anchorage Assembly to consider alcohol tax and sales taxes for April ballot - Must Read Alaska
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Anchorage Assembly to consider alcohol tax and sales taxes for April ballot

THREE SALES TAX PROPOSALS AND A BEVY OF BONDS

Voters may have said “no” to the Anchorage Assembly’s proposed alcohol tax this past April, but three hard-left Assembly members want a do-over.

Assembly members Felix Rivera, Austin Quinn-Davidson and Forrest Dunbar are asking the Assembly to approve putting an alcohol tax on the ballot just one year after the public gave it a thumbs down. The tax would include dedicating the proceeds to “public safety and health purposes.”

Dunbar is running for mayor, and Rivera and Quinn-Davidson are up for re-election in April, along with their tax plan.

Christine Hill has filed against Rivera, and William Pohland is running against Quinn-Davidson. Bill Evans, a conservative, has filed for mayor, but that election is not until 2021.

Voters in April were not impressed with the Assembly’s plan to use the proposed drink tax to provide homeless services. Under Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, the homelessness situation has intensified, and Berkowitz’ public safety promises have failed to produce a safer community. Anchorage is on track to match a record year for homicides

52 percent of voters said no on the alcohol tax, in what many perceived as a vote of no-confidence.

Now, the “tax pack” appear to believe it’s a matter of marketing this alcohol tax to the voters. They’re also wording the tax question so it can pass with 50 percent plus one vote.

The ordinance cites public safety, child abuse and domestic violence, and substance misuse treatment. It avoids the word “homelessness,” which turned off voters last time. Funding for “public safety and health” is a vast and general category that includes dealing with street people, drug addicts, public inebriates and more.

The tax they propose is the same as the one earlier this year — 5 percent, whether you drink it in a bar, or buy it at a retail store.

The Assembly just passed the highest budget in the city’s history. At $540 million, it’s 14.5 percent higher than the budget in 2014, before Mayor Ethan Berkowitz took office.

The alcohol tax would bring in as much as $15 million per year, by skimming up to 40 cents for a six pack of beer, and 50 cents for a mixed drink. That’s nearly 3 percent more for the city budget.

TWO OTHER SALES TAXES FOR ANCHORAGE?

It’s not the only sales tax in the works for Anchorage’s ballot in April.

A little-known group named Project 20 is pushing to put a a three-year sales tax on the April ballot. Project 20 also would tax alcohol, but other retail items are taxed as well at 3 percent, with a cap for purchases over $900. Project 20 is registered at the Alaska Public Offices

Some of the projects that the 3 percent sales tax would pay for include creating a mushing district, addressing homelessness, and improving areas in the downtown corridor:

A third sales tax will be discussed at tonight’s Anchorage Assembly meeting. AO 2019-156 would enact a sales tax, half of which would be dedicated to property tax relief and the other half dedicated to public safety. The tax would expire in 2028, unless continued by voters. It is being proposed by Assemblyman Fred Dyson of Eagle River.

It’s unlikely that all three sales taxes will be approved by the Assembly for the April ballot.

Bonds are also up for discussion for the April ballot:

  • AO 2019-145: $82,833,000 for capital projects for schools.
  • AO 2019-149: $39,300,000 for roads and storms, and would increase the tax cap.
  • AO 2019-150: $3,950,000 for parks and trails and would increase the tax cap.
  • AO 2019-152: $2,050,000 for fire protection and would increase the tax cap.
  • AO 2019-153: $5,095,000 for public safety and transit.
  • AO 2019-154: $4,375,000 for capital projects and would increase the tax cap.
  • AO 2019-155: $2,200,000 for Girdwood capital improvement and would increase the tax cap.

Those bonds will be discussed at the Assembly meeting on Tuesday evening.

The Anchorage Assembly meets at the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 5 pm with a business meeting at the Loussac Library Assembly Chambers, and usually runs past 11 pm.

The meeting agenda is at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Ha ha! I just heard Felix on the radio. He believes we didn’t understand the nebulous language last election. It wasn’t clear to the voters what the tax would be used for.
    .
    Let me be clear to you Felix. NO MORE TAXES.
    .
    Voters: Don’t get “Felixed”. Go to the polls!

  • The is no debate that Alcohol is fueling many of society’s problems from homelessness to violent crimes like murders and rapes.
    Why should it be so controversial to tax the cause of these major problems?
    With almost 50 percent voting in favor of the tax the first time, it obviously makes sense to give it another try.
    I can remember just last year when Republicans in the Legislature continued to re-vote over and over on a speaker of the house…even though it was obvious they did not have the votes to win.
    Calling for a re-vote is definitely not limited to one party in AK.

    • Like I said to you before, you must be a “public” employee and/or a dyed in the wool liberal. The tax grab by liberals is never ending. The alcohol tax is a targeted tax. The ones it will hurt the most are the ones needing help. Slap a big tax on alcohol. Watch what it does to the “major problems.” They won’t go away. The problems will intensify and grow. The leftist way. If you don’t get what you want, “keep trying the same thing over and over and hope for different results”. Einstein said that is the definition of insanity. Seems to apply here.

      • The sale of alcohol costs the City of Anchorage 50+ million a year to pay police to deal with problems it creates. The State of Alaska spends over 400+ million a year to deal with the fallout of alcohol sales and collects only 24 million a year in alcohol taxes. It is far past time for alcohol to pay for the problems it creates. Taxpayers should not be funding people getting drunk or people’s profits.

        • We could always ban alcohol… that will work. Here we have nicotine which is highly addictive, and tobacco is highly taxed, as if that interferes with addiction. It creates the situation where the city acts like a street pusher, boosting the cost of drugs because they know its an addiction.

          If the tax passes it must be entirely directed at the concerns you have… but don’t hold your breathe.

        • Where’d you pull your figures?
          Seems …liberal / Community
          Service groups….”Typically the road to hell..
          Paved with good intentions ”
          ***
          Taxes in the hands of these looters…sucked up with both in to show. No accountability…Time for new assembly/ mayor..in touch with citizens.

        • Jule,
          I don’t think the entire $50 ml. police budget is entirely dedicated to alcohol related problems. The $24 ml. income from current alcohol tax is more than sufficient to diminish the incidence of alcohol related expenses to you and other taxpayers. It’s the management and permissive policies of the current administration that need to be addressed. Bilking taxpayers for “problems” that never seem to get fixed, needs to be rectified first. Like the tobacco taxes. They were supposed to pay for tobacco related expenses to the city. Too bad that never happened. The tobacco tax appears to pay for most everything but tobacco related problems. Same with alcohol tax. More $ will never be enough. Administration and application of those taxes needs to be addressed first, not grab more of other peoples’ money. “Social Justice” can be a real drag on taxpayers/citizens. I’ll wager it doesn’t stop here.

  • Highest budget in the history of Anchorage. Remember the money grabbing mayor gave his union buddy’s a raise for electing him and now he wants more. These lib’s will never have enough of everyone else money. Why don’t we tax the unions and their employees since they have it all. Let’s also tax the mayor and his staff. Let’s tax the assembly and everyone working for or with them. Let’s tax them all like they want to do to us. Never enough money. Look at the payroll of the city employees.

  • The tax used to be the limit, not the goal. Now, even the tax cap is not a limitation for the most liberal Assembly we have ever had. They want other taxes at a time that Anchorage is losing population to the valley. It is not only taxes but burdensome regulations that it is making it harder and harder to do business in Anchorage.

  • Those democrats sure like extorting money.

  • Anchorage citizens step right up. The liberals have the “deal of the election cycle” for you. For your cooperation and sharing of your hard earned money, you get “taxes to the sky, little or no personal benefit for forking over your $$, invasion of liberal “constituent” freeloaders into your neighborhoods, to name a few liberal “benefits.” Along with that, you get an exponentially expanding police department, with decreasing actual coverage for the citizens. The ultimate goal of the liberals is to control every facet of life within their purview and that list of potential “benefits” of liberalism keeps growing.
    Vote, anyone?

  • Ah, the Democrats. The party of “Tax and Spend.” Anchorage, wake up and stop voting for these Dems. Unless you enjoy paying more $$$ for everything and enjoy big government controlling your life.

    • I hate sales tax, it makes every merchant a tax collector and if an Item costs say 5 bucks with the tax you gotta break a twenty to make the transaction! Resulting in a lot of loose change weighing down your pockets.

  • The Fred Dyson proposal is a rehash of a similar proposal put forth by then Assemblyman Mark Begich in the 90’s. While the part that gives property tax relief is a noble idea, having the other half of the sales tax revenues simply add to city revenues will only mean even greater city spending. There is sufficient revenue, the problem is spending at both the city and the state level. Fred has served at both levels and should know better than to channel his inner Begich.

  • The Anchorage Municipal budget has doubled in less than 20 years. Has your individual income doubled in the last 20 years. The Municipality is out of control.

  • Anchorage currently spends approximately 50 million every year on interest on bonds and another 50 million on the principal for the bonds. If we eliminated the bonds, theoretically Anchorage would have 100 million every year to spend on projects, which seems like more than enough.

  • Keep feeding the Monster, see what happens.

  • Municipalities love to borrow money and if they borrow more than they should…no problem!…state law allows them to tax the citizenry into abject poverty to pay off the debt.

    Don’t fret though, the money is going to fund great things like homelessness or new swimming pools or higher wages and benefits for unionized government employees….the list is endless…really!

    Ha ha…

    AS 29.45.100. No limitations on taxes to pay bonds.
    The limitations provided for in AS 29.45.080 — 29.45.090 do not apply to taxes levied or pledged to pay or secure the payment of the principal and interest on bonds. Taxes to pay or secure the payment of principal and interest on bonds may be levied without limitation as to rate or amount, regardless of whether the bonds are in default or in danger of default.

    AS 29.47.200. Payment.
    (a) The full faith and credit of a municipality are pledged for the payment of principal and interest on general obligation bonds. The municipality may levy ad valorem taxes for payment without limitation of rate or amount to pay or secure the payment of the principal and interest on bonds, regardless of whether the bonds are in default or in danger of default.

    (b) General obligation bonds issued for acquiring, constructing, improving, and equipping a municipally owned utility or other revenue-generating enterprise may be additionally secured by a pledge of the revenue derived from operation. Bonds so secured are not subject to a debt limitation imposed by a home rule charter. This subsection applies to home rule and general law municipalities.

    “ An ad valorem tax (Latin for “according to value”) is a tax whose amount is based on the value of a transaction or of property. It is typically imposed at the time of a transaction, as in the case of a sales tax or value-added tax (VAT). An ad valorem tax may also be imposed annually, as in the case of a real or personal property tax, or in connection with another significant event (e.g. inheritance tax, expatriation tax, or tariff).[1] In some countries a stamp duty is imposed as an ad valorem tax.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_valorem_tax

  • Cancel all the proposed sales taxes. Introduce a sales tax on everything, and with it replace all, yes all property rental tax. Yes, that is what it should be named: “Strong-arm protection rental tax, extracted by left wing Mafia Socialists.” When property is bought and sold, it should be held “freehold,” i.e all closing sales taxes have been paid. There should be no property ‘rental’ taxes on any property private or commercial.

  • Remember the tax on tobacco? The proceeds were supposed to go to quit smoking programs. It all went into the general fund of the MOA and very little of it has ever been used for smoking issues. This alcohol tax would go the same route. I think the Muni can’t dedicate funds for a specific purpose so when they say the tax income will be used for whatever is they are assuming future assemblys will appropriator the money for that purpose. The tobacco tax shows that doesn’t happen.

  • Gentle Readers, was not the purpose of forcing mail-in-voting on Anchorage voters to assure no bond, leftist candidate, –or tax– gets left behind?
    .
    Productive Anchorage residents should be grateful for the opportunity to contribute their fair share in the form of a small, fair, sustainable tax to the Peoples Assembly to use as it wishes.
    .
    We expect the Peoples Assembly to dismiss counterrevolutionary complaints about the diversity of corporations, groups, and individuals who will receive tax exemptions.
    .
    Of course, we expect the Peoples Assembly to end the “Eagle Exit” nonsense so that group may continue to contribute its fair share.
    .
    The Peoples Assembly must be hard at work creating new taxes for the Eklutna Casino.
    .
    Surely the productive masses will cooperate and not leave town like they did in the mid 80’s.
    .
    Maybe some kind of exit tax should be passed to prevent such a disaster, no?

  • In South Anchorage I pay nearly $10,000 per year in property tax for my residence… did I say my house? Yes. So if I paid my mortgage off, I would still have to pay about $800 per month in taxes. If it were $300 per month it would still be outrageous. Did I mention it was my house? I like Anchorage, but it might be time to leave for a more tax friendly place.

    • Exactly. What happens if one fails or refuses to pay the property tax?

      *Your property* will eventually be taken from you by force.

      That is otherwise known as extortion.

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