Dave Bronson: Sales tax – relief or burden for Anchorage?

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By MAYOR DAVE BRONSON

For decades, Anchorage residents and local government have discussed the idea of a sales tax to alleviate property taxes. As the cost of living has escalated and property taxes have continued to rise, I have publicly supported a sales tax—but only if it provided dollar-for-dollar relief of property taxes. The most recent sales tax proposal, Project Anchorage, does not aim to do that. Instead, two-thirds of the sales tax revenue would alleviate the property tax burden, while one-third would fund special projects. 

At a high level, Project Anchorage seems like a reasonable compromise. The tax is designed to partially relieve property owners and fund new projects. However, this could easily turn into another tax pipeline that increases municipal government spending, much like the alcohol tax has.

During the budget process in 2023, the Anchorage Assembly moved the funding for the Mobile Intervention Team and Mobile Crisis Team from the alcohol tax to the general operations budget. They then used the freed-up alcohol tax funds to finance new programs. This ultimately increased the city budget, placing a greater burden on property taxpayers.

While lowering property taxes would certainly benefit homeowners and potentially make Anchorage more attractive for new residents and businesses, the regressive nature of sales taxes means they disproportionately impact lower-income families. This raises concerns about fairness and equity. Moreover, there is the question of how effectively the additional funds for community projects will be managed. Will these projects truly enhance our quality of life, or will they become yet another way to inflate municipal budgets?

I have seen firsthand the challenges our community faces with high property taxes that make first time homeownership a challenge. While a sales tax is not ideal, its potential benefits in terms of housing affordability and community enhancement make it a worthy consideration. However, the Project Anchorage approach does not relieve property taxes, so I remain skeptical. 

Ultimately, Project Anchorage presents a vision for our city that requires careful scrutiny. I encourage everyone to look closely at the details, weigh the pros and cons, and participate in the upcoming discussions. Our collective voice and decision will shape the future of Anchorage.

Dave Bronson is mayor of Anchorage.

26 COMMENTS

  1. I would “NEVER EVER” trust our government to lower property taxes after adding a state tax!!! They are liars, cheats and a bunch of criminals😡

    • They are and the worst of them today just got elected. Sales tax? Really! The had all of the Covid Money and no one knows where it went, the same group hid it and used it but still say the don’t know. But the Covid money is stacked away due to the fact that the assembly refused the money businesses that had to go out of business. That was a period of millionaires being made and Pfizer, good friend of Trump, CEO became a szar for the period promoting the “vaccine” and his company took in over $60 billion after expenses. The other pharmecutical companies became extremely wealthy. Now Fouci has given testimony that it wasn’t a vaccine. Kansas AG is suing Pfizer and just filed it yesterday. Biden also did and promoted just as much of these problems. The average person in the middle class is suffering from two administrations destroying the middle class and wolrse yet put this country in the worst place for the next generation.

      • Hey, have they been penalized YET for the misuse of the covid funds for the homeless(funds for treating the homeless situation BEFORE Covid the period started?.). The misused of funds that were supposed to go for businesses NOT the homeless situation starting long before covid started.

  2. “Give them an inch and they will try to take a mile”. The alcohol was voted on because the money had a specific purpose and now that has changed. If we approve a small sales tax, over years, it will become large.
    I have advocated for a sales tax for years but only if offsets the business property and personal property tax. That tax is full of loopholes which means a lot of businesses do not pay it. We also have a lot of businesses doing business in Anchorage who have no local property or inventory which means they have an advantage over the local brick and mortar businesses.
    That needs to be fixed first. Amazon may be doing more business in Anchorage than any other and until their recently stood up delivery presence they have paid no local tax. If there is no equity I am a hard no on any tax changes or additions.

    • The muni charter disallows any sales tax without the vote of 3/5 of the REGISTERED voters. The alcohol tax, the gas tax, the tobacco tax, and the marijuana tax are ALL illegal sales taxes under the Muni charter. This assembly has been violating the charter and has been running an ongoing RICO violation since Constant and Zaletel got on the assembly. They have misappropriated funds, laundered CARES act funds, appropriated money to non profits to directly benefit themselves, and used “homelessness” to benefit at least 9 new non profits that were created for the sole purpose of moving money. The property owners that have been here the longest are being fleeced ever more every year. My home has “increased in value” by over 300% since I bought it and I am on track to have paid for it twice this year because of the ever growing property tax bill.

      • Well said, Robert…. clearly, the assembly will keep making their own rules and getting away with it… we are moving out of state and I can’t wait, at least in Idaho they are up front about what your taxes are (much, much lower than here) instead of finding new ways to rob you every year. Every place has it’s issues, but when I retire, I don’t want to be paying “rent” (What my taxes amount to) on my own home every month or we won’t be able to afford to eat! In a perfect world sales tax would mean every citizen would help pay local expenses…. (But it would never be actually used like they would promise…) Maybe the rising property taxes would at least stall if every voter stopped voting yes on every stinking ballot measure, every time…. let the local “government” learn how to pay for things out of these crazy taxes instead of stacking more money grabs on the ballot for their lack of budgeting. So frustrating!!

  3. Given the lack of integrity – honesty of this current Assembly, and the incoming Mayor, it’s foolhardy to trust any measure from these Thieves and Liars!!!

  4. Project Anchorage? It’s a joke that isn’t funny.

    A sales tax is a trap that dumb Anchorage voters will fall into, unfortunately.

  5. Oh, go ahead and give it a try. What do you have to lose except Seattle style 12% sales tax and even higher property taxes, which will never satiate the Marxist politicians you anoint with power. There is plenty of room for more businesses in the Valley.

  6. The fairest way is to stop personal property taxes, so somebody could actually own their home and not the municipality. And replace personal property taxes with a sales tax. That way everybody that uses the Anchorage infrastructure helps pay for it the nonprofits the people from the valley and the tourist.

  7. Lafrance and her groupies need a no limit credit card.
    Anchorage will be downtown Oakland before the snow flies
    What a pathetic bunch of voters.

  8. Remember most voters, those renters and others living at home, pay no property taxes.
    These are the voters who have no bad feelings to vote for our ‘social justice’ warriors. After the city has a balanced representation, on the Assembly and the Mayor’s office, a sales tax may be a good idea. Writing condional use of funds into the law may not be enough–look at the Alcohol tax movable funds.

  9. We will definitely miss you Mayor Dave Bronson.. Have you thought about any plans AFTER the next 4 yrs this upcoming communistic assembly?…

  10. I am impressed, a Fiscal Conservative finally said what mainline Republicans have avoided for years. Sales taxes are regressive and hurt working families. Property taxes are passed on to working families, the fairest tax is a progressive income tax, or user taxes.

    • Fair in what way?
      Yes, sales taxes are more evenly spread across the population, including the poor. Isn’t it fair that they also should pay their share?
      That being said, I won’t ever vote to add a new tax.

  11. The new mayor and assembly must look to other states/cities for how to balance the massive MOA operating and capital budgets they have approved and stop wasting taxpayer funds. It is more than likely time to revisit and potentially erase property tax exemptions that were pushed by Rev. Jerry Prevo. Legitimate property tax exemptions for some 501c is valid, however private ownership of homes/real estate for employees or other weak connections should never be allowed to be exempt from property taxes. If the real property has been sold to other individuals the exemption MUST be cancelled. Exemptions should never be grandfathered.

    Mayor and Assembly must focus on essential services like infrastructure maintenance of roads and bridges and stop wasting money on more homeless shelters, more trails, more fluff projects.

    If Arkansas can reduce government spending so can the Anchorage Assembly! Mission is clear – No new taxes and balance the MOA budget according to MOA Tax Cap and stop wasting taxpayer funds!

    If Mayor Susan believes she is the new MOA CEO, then she should prove it and eliminate wasteful spending!

  12. First, I will never believe a politician who says adding a new type of tax will reduce an existing one. This has never happened in the entire history of mankind and I have no reason to believe that the Anchorage Assembly has somehow found a way to defy human nature, hard as they may try.
    .
    Second, while the former Mayor is correct that sales taxes are inherently regressive they can be designed to minimize this effect. Many states and cities with sales taxes exempt certain “necessity” items like clothing and unprepared food while others place a cap on the taxable amount of any single transaction (to avoid driving up the cost of big-ticket items like cars). Also, as Anchorage receives a lot of tourism a sales tax *can* effectively shift some of the tax burden off of residents and on to tourists; while we do have a few taxes specifically targeting tourists (such as those on hotels and car rentals) they are a tiny part of the overall budget.
    .
    I have strongly mixed feelings about sales taxes (primarily due to my first point) but I think it is only fair to point out that they are not all bad.

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