Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ new gasoline tax goes into effect on Thursday, costing motorists 10 cents per gallon more than they will pay before midnight on Wednesday.
The Berkowitz Administration says the gas tax will raise $11-14 million its first year.
The Anchorage municipal budget has exploded since Berkowitz took office, going up from $471 million in 2015 to now over $521 million.
“In reality this is a $531 million budget because they are kicking $10 million in pension liabilities, which are typically accounted for in the budget, to 2019,” Assembly member Amy Demboski explained earlier this year.
To compare, the similarly sized city of Cincinnati, Ohio has an operating budget of $388 million.
The gas tax, supported by every Assembly member except Demboski, is supposed to help increase services for the homeless, as well as pay for employee pay raises and health care benefits.
An average driver will pay $43 more per year in taxes. Last April, the Assembly raised property taxes by 5.3 percent, costing the average homeowner more than $240 more per year. The latest budget rolled half of that increase back, but sent the rest of the bill to drivers.
It spreads the tax out to residents living in the Mat-Su Valley and Girdwood, who commute farther to work than people in the urban core.
Political activist Judy Eledge said she and others will be protesting Thursday and reminding people that their taxes just went up.
“We’re going to show our mayor and Assembly that many of us are struggling to live in a city with a property tax increase of 8 percent in less than four years, and we’re not going to stand for more taxes so the mayor can build more homeless shelters. If he keeps it up, we’ll all be homeless,” she said.
Eledge said that there will be signs available to wave at 442 Gambell Street in Anchorage, near the Tesoro gas station, starting at 8 am on Thursday.