Camel’s nose under tent: New mayor and a new proposed sales tax for Anchorage

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Although Mayor-elect Suzanne LaFrance has not taken office yet, the rollout of a new proposed sales tax for Anchorage was already ready to go, and the website is up and running.

The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation has launched Project Anchorage, to get a 3% sales tax in place — because city government doesn’t have enough to work with.

The idea is to start taxing sales of goods at 3%, but that could and likely will increase over time.

The promise being made by the group is that the new tax will reduce property taxes, which are higher than they would be because of the large number of property tax exemptions that have been given out by the city, shifting the tax burden to homeowners.

“Led by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), we have met since the summer of 2023 to develop a proposal that would implement a temporary 3% sales tax to reduce property taxes, and invest in quality of life enhancing capital projects,” the Project Anchorage group says.

It also says it is copying Oklahoma City. That’s a city where former Democrat Mayor Ethan Berkowitz paid a visit during his term in office to get ideas about good governance.

“Our proposal takes inspiration from Oklahoma City, which used a similar initiative to successfully reverse years of economic decline, beginning in the 1990s. After implementing a 1% sales tax to fund dozens of projects such as a new canal and waterfront entertainment district, sports stadium, downtown library, and convention center – not only did voters reauthorize the sales tax multiple times since the program began, but Oklahoma City has seen incredible population and economic growth as a result of this public investment,” AEDC says.

But while the Oklahoma City sales tax started at 1%, it’s now at 4.13%, and combined with the state sales tax, it’s over 8.6%. This is something Project Anchorage doesn’t reveal in its literature.

The group plans to get the question on the April 2025 ballot. It has many supporters on the Assembly and with the incoming mayor.

Unlike Oklahoma City’s starter sales tax of 1%, the Anchorage proposal would start with a 3% sales tax, set to sunset after 5 years. In reality, the municipality would return to voters for reauthorization of the tax and make it hard to say no.

As currently proposed by the group, this new tax will reduce property taxes and use some of the money to make Anchorage “a more attractive place to live and visit.”

  • “Projects would be sourced from an extensive public input process, and selected before the initiative is taken to voters for a final decision,” the group promises. In addition, of course, voters would be asked to pass more bonds.

Food, childcare, medical expenses, gasoline, and banking services would be exempt from the tax, which would also apply to just the first $1,000 of any eligible purchase.

The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation is often criticized by conservatives for having produced nothing of value in the past few years, under the direction of recently resigned Bill Popp. Popp brought in no business to speak of but held an annual luncheon to describe the poor economy to the business leaders of the city. Now, with its new leader, Jenna Wright, the mission is no longer just providing reports on the economy, but taxing the public.

It’s a far cry from the early days of AEDC, when it helped bring in a cargo hub economy for the airport and made it possible for the Alyeska Resort to become a destination, by helping to facilitate a major hotel project. But that was decades ago.

“Remember, that the AEDC organization was run by Bill Popp who claims to be ‘non-partisan,'” explained Bob Baer on the NextDoor website. Popp unsuccessfully ran for mayor, peeling off business votes from incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson. “Keep an eye on him. I suspect that behind the scene, this 3% tax has been proposed by Mr. Popp, in conjunction with Project Anchorage, and the new director of the AEDC. They indicate that a portion of the sales tax, and future increases in the sales tax revenues, will be applied to a reduction to real estate property taxes, and the balance would be used to build or improve ‘public amenities.’ If the sales tax were to be included in the tax cap, that might be a good thing, as long as real estate taxes were reduced accordingly.”

During his tenure at AEDC, Popp pushed hard for tax exemptions on certain commercial and residential properties, both downtown and in other areas of Anchorage. When large property tax exemptions are allowed, the amount of the exempt taxes are indirectly paid by the remaining taxpayers, says Baer, who is a real estate broker. Thus, after exempting so many properties in town from the property tax, the city now wants to make up for that by enacting a sales tax.

“If the sales tax is approved at 3%, it will surely go higher,” Baer points out.

While the Project Anchorage group has major support from business players like the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Visit Anchorage, the Calista Corp., and Anchorage Downtown Partnership, there is no similar group that has been established to oppose the tax increase.

76 COMMENTS

  1. Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table at which he’s fed.
    Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes are the rule.
    Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts anyway!
    Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat. Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.
    Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he tries to think.
    Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries tax his tears.
    Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways to tax his ass.
    Tax all he has, Then let him know, That you won’t be done till he has no dough.
    When he screams and hollers, Then tax him some more, Tax him till he’s good and sore.
    Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in which he’s laid.
    Put these words Upon his tomb, ‘Taxes drove me to my doom…’
    When he’s gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply the inheritance tax.

    • Pretty pathetic. Alaskans have the lowest tax burden of any place in the country. You have nothing to complain about.

      • Alaskans actually have one of the highest per capita tax burdens in the country, except that it is mostly hidden in forwarded corporate taxes. The fact of the matter is that our bloated government spends far beyond its means and far beyond a sustainable level. Government exists only for three purposes:
        1. To protect the common border of the nation from invasion either overt or covert.
        2. To assure justice equally for all citizens.
        3. To provide essential infrastructure which cannot be better done by private industry.
        Our Constitution laid out pretty good guidelines for these functions. Too bad it has been so perverted by sociopath politicians over the past quarter millennium.

          • For myself, I turn my back upon government ‘freebies’. I do not want the baggage or the addiction, and many people refuse to sign onto the government gravy train. In general, government burdens far outweigh the benefits. At least for the shrinking productive class, small as it may be any more. But rest assured, I speak sufficient Chinese to communicate with the coming masters after the progressive class completely destroys our current economy. See the Yuri Bezmenov quote.

      • So?
        Lowest tax burden? Meaningless. It is still too high.
        .
        Comparing Alaska’s tax burden to some other area is just stupid. It is a way to make you feel like you gave someone a good “zing” without actually saying anything.
        .
        Reality. Anchorage is more than capable of providing the services that taxes are meant for without a sales tax. All they have to do is stop throwing good money after bad emulating Portland and Seattle when it comes to the homeless. Just imaging how well off the city would be if they did not waste well over $100 Million on increasing the number of homeless in the city.

      • Alaska has more money per capita coming into the state coffers than any other sate in the union from the oil field money. There is absolutely no reason to to implement a tax that screws the private worker to support the incredible over abundance of government employees in this state. Anchorage property taxes have risen to a ridiculous level for those of us that earn our money in the private sector. I paid my house off in 2002 and am paying the city over $800 a month to live in the house I paid for.

        • Yes you will never own your own home.
          I would like to see a sales tax only if the property tax is stoped.
          Then we could really own the house and not have the muni using the title as a threat to pay your taxes.
          The sales tax would be fair as the tourist, the valley workers and the non profits would all pay for the resources we provide.

      • Oh dont fret Hans… the Democrats will put us at the top of the heap of dung when it comes to tax and spend.

      • You need a lesson in taxes.
        We have half of our PFD stolen every year now.
        That’s taxation Hans.
        I pay taxes in license plates
        Hunting and fishing license alcohol taxes gas taxes.

  2. Is anyone surprised? With poor Anchorage voter turn out chances are the sales tax will pass. Just use the booze tax that was voted in to cure the out of control Bum problem in Anchorage with Sin tax monies. More vagrant bums begging on the streets than ever. Also let’s not forget the tax Anchorage voters did not vote on, 10 cent a gallon fuel tax. Start adding all the taxes up, there will never be “ enough “ money for the Liberal jerks running the show.

    • The alcohol tax is an illegal tax. The muni charter states that a sales tax requires 3/5 of the REGISTERED voters to be enacted. Same with the gas tax, the marijuana tax and the tobacco tax/ All sales taxes, all illegal under the charter.

      • Yes where is Kendall?
        My bad he only trying to help the left.
        Everybody can see where he stands and we know his game.

  3. Do these people do anything besides tax and spend? Have they bothered to open their eyes and see the tanking economy going on here in reality?

    • No Julie, they only know how to OVERspend our hard earned money on their failed policies and ridiculous pet leojects that help absolutely none of US. She is going to be worse than ADQ especially with Chrissy Constantly-complaining telling her which bad projects to fund with this “new money”.
      Stupid citizens that do not vote, cannot bitch when they have to pay the 3 percent (for now).
      .
      We will be leaving soon as we can sell our wonderful single family home which will house 20 families by the time this stupid bitch is done with us.
      Stupid people who do not vote, you SUCK.

  4. The exemptions are bad enough and have proven a burden to many property owners. ‘Shift and shaft’ I believe is the phrase used some years back. [Worse could be said, but I’m trying to better myself.] These Progs have already subverted Anchorage’s tax cap; there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t use this to do even more damage to the local economy. We can’t let this stand.

  5. Yes, the nose has entered the tent. And when the “valiant voters” who elected a woman who was not Bronson(!) wake up with a camel in their bed, they will say they never saw it coming. Yet they were the ones keeping his or her nose warm the night before.

  6. “Implement a temporary tax of 3% to reduce property taxes.” How does that work? Does it mean if they implement the tax property taxes won’t be raised? Or will there be both.

    • You already know the answer, and it will become permanent, “cause the children,” or some such other nonsense they convince themselves of. Anything they can do to screw we the people, we the homeowners, we the ratepayers of Anchorage. The commie assembly “members” hate us, this is how they show us. Taxation without representation…..

      Now that they have shown how much they hate us, are you going to continue to vote thes3 morons in?

    • Right?! Where’s the part about capping and reducing property tax as a result of this proposed tax?

      If they’d eliminate property tax and put some hard limits — like no increases without a majority vote of all registered voters — I’d go for this. Without those provisions, no way!

      • It already exists in the charter, requires 3/5 of Registered voters to pass the sales tax. All the current sales taxes were implemented illegally. Gas tax, alcohol tax, marijuana tax, tobacco tax. They are ALL sales taxes and illegal as hell.

        • Can you please cite the line in Muni Charter stating this?

          I want to use it in future debates with people and would like to have specifics for reference

  7. Make it 20% as I want to see all the pro tax people pay and be happy about it.
    Just remember taxes never go away the politicians just want more of your money.

  8. The new sales tax will get to 6, 7, 8% within two years. Revenues will go to homeless shelters and programs and LGBTQ and climate hoax actions. Mark my words.

  9. You voted in this assembly, and incoming mayor. Enjoy reaping all the glorious repercussions.

    • Thank a Lafrance voter/supporter.

      Not even in office yet and Lafrance first proposal is more taxes. I’m So Shocked-Not.

      What property owners actually believe they will be paying less with a sales tax? Think they won’t be buying anything?

  10. Do not fall for the AEDC. I worked with Bill Popp and he is not a conservative or hold true business ideas. AEDC under Bill did nothing but put the free lunches out there for him. Unfortunately I grew up in the Bay Area and then Seattle and during this time, sales taxes always went up. DO not give the Muni sales tax authority because it will go up and never sunset. Do not think AEDC is out for private business.

  11. Government at all levels has an insatiable need for other people’s money. The promise that a new tax will offset other tax(s) of will go away after a few years is an often told lie. Government has no incentive to operate efficiently. Once it receives more money government spends it. Then it requires more money.

  12. Did it to yourselves, Anchorage. Did it to yourselves.

    This is the government you wanted, so stop complaining about it.

    You couldn’t be bothered to vote when it came to your door.

  13. A new 10% tax on gas would be fun.

    How about an increase in your millage rates? Evil rich homeowners.

    Maybe a tax on people who live in the valley but work in the muni? It’s done elsewhere.

    And how about a tax on the sales tax?

    Buckle up. You’re gonna be missing Ethan soon enough.

  14. Blame it all on the non voters. You can easily find them because generally they’re the biggest complainers.

    • Every time someone i know starts complaining, i ask who they voted for….. if you didn’t vote, STFU, you are part of the problem.

      • The answer to your question is YES. Think about it. The majority of residents in Anchorage are either city, borough, state or federal employees. How else do you think they would vote> DEMOCRAT!!!!!!!

  15. Pretty soon we’ll see $.30 a mile tax on our vehicles. There will be a gas stove tax, a gas water heater tax, a gas lawn mower tax, a tax on getting your hair colored, a tax for having a pet, a tax for flying the American flag…the list goes on and on. But with 80% of registered voters not voting we will get nowhere with this whining and crying. Get involved whether it’s your school board, your assembly person, your legislature—we can turn this around with all citizens working for our republic!

  16. Bob Baer is correct.

    How many properties owned by the Anchorage Baptist Temple / Mountain City Church receive 100% property tax exemptions? Answer: Many; they don’t pay a penny for the Muni services they receive.

    The full (100%) tax exemptions church affiliated properties get require the rest of us property tax payers to absorb the costs of these free-loaders. As another example, the guy across the street from me lives alone in a four or five bedroom home and has some affiliation with some church in Texas AND he pays no property tax. Muni property tax payers pay for this guy’s oppulent lifestyle. It ain’t right!

    • The property on Benson and Arctic has a dress shop, apartments and radio station.
      Pays No Tax. Arctic and 36th has a coffee cart. No Tax.
      On and on

  17. The ADN article on this tax says one estimate is $180 million of revenue. That’s 3% of $6 Billion of “taxable” spending in a city with a population of about 283,000. Really? And proposed taxable spending excludes food, rent, child care, medical.

    And that’s to build things we don’t already have, or even have defined.

    We do such a good job of taking care of the things we already have. The article also says Oklahoma City as an example. Ok City has a population just over a million. Los Anchorage s less than a third of that in size of population.
    So, probably 3% won’t be nearly enough, but once it’s on the books it will be much easier to raise the rate!

    What fun! To go after other people’s money when you don’t even know what you’re going to spend it on!

    Where’d they spend the $1 billion from the sale of ML & P?

    Where’d they spend $241 million of federal covid lockdown assistance money?

    You could give the City, or the Anchorage School District the whole Permanent Fund, and next year or the following year, they’d be back for more (in my estimation.)

    Grey Bear

  18. the new tax will reduce property taxes- ha ha ha ya right. Once it gets in they will tax anything and everything and raise it at will. It will not offset property taxes and will go to homeless- you know it- I know it- they know it.

    • And if you believe that there’s going to be a 5 year sunset clause, ya better think again. That sun ain’t never gonna set!!!! It will keep getting brighter and brighter. To the point that you’ll be looking for blackout shades. Or a cave.

  19. Why spend money on more “public amenities” when so many of the current parks and public spaces have been taken over by the tents, trash, human waste, needles, and deviant behavior?

  20. Surprise! LaFrance regime’s off to a bang-up start: lies and a sales tax.
    .
    The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation just did a forensic audit and found city government doesn’t have enough money to work with?
    .
    The AEDC wants to tax productive citizens on the extra cost which Mr. Biden’s inflation has added to everything they buy?
    .
    The AEDC says a sales tax is the only way to prosperity for Anchorage, just like in Oklahoma City?
    .
    The AEDC says property taxes’ll totally go down if productive residents get stiffed with a sales tax?
    .
    If that’s the case, why not stiff ’em with a twenty percent sales tax, so property taxes really go down?
    .
    The AEDC love that trend in Oklahoma City where home prices and property taxes are right now going through the roof?
    .
    The AEDC absolutely won’t let Anchorage home valuations go up more than 3% in a single year, just like in Oklahoma, right?
    .
    The AEDC saw how many food-stampers and other Special People got themselves exempt from Oklahoma City sales tax, but forgot to mention Okie food will soon be exempt from sales tax?
    .
    3% sales tax? Special Folks carve out their special exemptions, shiny new collection bureaucracy sprouts, Anchorage shoppers go somewhere else, how much of that 3% actually gets to the city’s piggy bank?
    .
    Oklahoma City voters approved a 1 percent sales tax for six years to help fund a new downtown arena expected to cost at least $900 million, keeping the NBA’s Thunder in town through at least 2050… something similar coming to Anchorage?
    .
    Oklahoma developers got city approval to erect the tallest building in the U.S. in Bricktown (Oklahoma City). The proposed 1,907-foot Legends Tower is part of the $1.5B Boardwalk at Bricktown development expected to break ground this summer… something similar coming to Anchorage?
    .
    Casino gambling’s coming to Anchorage because AEDC saw what a huge moneymaker it is for Oklahoma City, or maybe not because AEDC nowadays is all about taking money for government, not making money for citizens… true “economic development”, no?
    .
    The AEDC saw Oklahoma City people doing what they do because their economy’s driven by a thriving oil industry and a reasonably efficient, user-friendly government while in Alaska, government officials and global-warming hysterians seem dedicated to throttling the oil industry, raising taxes, and disenfranchising voters?
    .
    Bottom line, you ask? None of this matters.
    .
    No… what matters is the LaFrance regime’s growing fear that career-ending economic collapse and another 80’s-style exodus may be right around the corner if:
    (a) their easily corruptible election system can’t stop Eaglexit,
    (b) actual voter turnout makes the election too big to rig,
    (c) desperate measures such as a sales tax, personal property tax, maybe a school tax, aren’t imposed to provide at least the illusion of financial solvency, and
    (d) perhaps most importantly, remaining residents can’t be taxed enough to support the regime in the manner to which it’s become entitled.

  21. I do not make enough as it is. I live in apartment & prices are high as it is. I just sold my car so I don’t have to pay too-high gas prices & car insurance and help me keep up with my bills. I make too much to apply for assistance… and this 3% sales tax will not help people who makes less than $65,000 a year. We’re struggling and stressing out as it is, so how is this going to help us?

  22. I live in district one. I did not vote for the I did not vote for these assembly members. They did not deserve my vote. I vote for the opposite side. Same thing includes the mayor. They did not deserve my vote so I vote for the opposite side.

  23. Talk about bait and switch. Homeowners are just now opening their shock and awe real estate tax bills. This proposal says the sales tax will help reduce RE taxes. It won’t. The sales tax will remain forever, go up and be used for more and more frivolous initiatives. Voters need to just say no to this and to bonds that keep coming up.

  24. What a bunch of whiners on this website. Step up, pay your taxes, and do your duty to the society of which you are a part.

  25. My, my the homeless spending now requires a sales tax to it can grow and have our city look like San Francisco. It is well on its way. Regardless of sales tax they will continue to spend to ensure a constant “return to the people” to make it even bigger. What a joke they are but even worse are the other side that didn’t vote and now want to complain.

  26. You crazy Anchorage idiots!!!!! Look at just what you bought!!! Silly Suzanne LaFrance isn’t even in office yet and BIG changes are on the agenda. Out of town shoppers aren’t gonna be coming your way any time soon. You bought her, deal with her.

  27. How’s that voter apathy feeling now, Anchorage? You’re literally about to start paying for it.

  28. Well that didn’t take long. And the issue was completely absent from Suzanne’s mayoral campaign.

    We do find the price for Bill Popp’s endorsement of LaFrance. Cheers –

  29. Thank your leftist neighbors and friends who know everything better and voted for the new mayor and these assembly members. They will never have enough of your money to spend on their stupid ideas.

  30. Property taxes will not decrease and once the 3% is put in place you can forget about a 5 year sunset, it will not only stay but increase as well. Never underestimate the power of stupid voters.

  31. Lafrance winning was downright crazy. She did not win an honest election. Now, the evil has established itself and will finish the total take-over of Anchorage because people are too freaking lazy to get off their rear-ends and stand-up for what is right. Oh, there is a small group of people working to right the wrongs in towns across Alaska. Get involved and help take America back in the towns and onto the nation!

  32. For everyone who wants to know what you can do to help take back our country from the evil, here is a good example of a lady in Kenai, Alaska speaking to her assembly. Watch the public comments before hers also. Kenai is stepping up their game to let the “appointed” people know who they work for.

    Start at the 1:18:40 mark (or earlier if you want to hear everyone’s comments).

    ‘https://kpb.granicus.com/player/clip/1575?view_id=1&redirect=true

  33. Next will be a California-style “use tax” for anything purchased outside the grasping claw of the Anchorage sales tax. Yes. They do assess you for out of jurisdiction purchases. They tried to additional to online transactions for shipment into the state. You will own NOTHING!, UND BE HEPPY LIKEWE TELLYOU TOBE OR ELSE!!!

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