Spotted: A Dunbar beer tax - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Spotted: A Dunbar beer tax

The owner of the LaMex Restaurant in Anchorage evidently wants patrons to know that the new 5% tax on alcohol sales, which started Feb. 1, is the Dunbar Tax. It says so right there on the receipt.

Forrest Dunbar is running for Anchorage mayor and was one of the movers and shakers behind the new beverage tax, but it was the voters who finally approved it after being promised it would help pay for policing in Anchorage.

On the receipt above, the Budweiser beer that cost the diner $5 had a 25 cent tax added for the municipality.

Owner Trina Johnson is a supporter of Dave Bronson for mayor.

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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

  • There are so many good Mexican dining restaurants in Anchorage. La Mex will never be on my list of places to dine out ever again. This business owner is a joke, and he will learn to keep his politics to himself, or he will lose a huge chunk of his customers. Gallos is 100 times better anyway, and they make way better drinks.

    $0.25 tax will not keep me from dining out and having a drink, but a loudmouth business owner sure as Hell will!!!

    • Gallos charged my card twice for the same meal once. I had hassle of getting them to refund it but finally did.

    • Enjoy supporting your mafia leaders, Chris.

      …and your gender thing’s out of calibration, too. Last I checked the owner of La Mex is not a he.

    • Chris you’re the joke. You sound like a 13 year old with a bad fake ID.

    • Haha! It’s a lady that own LaMex! Good for her! This city has been going down hill. Gallos is great! If the money is going to what it says then great but for some reason I really don’t think that it is.

    • Did you even read the article.? The owner of La Mex is a lady, and a damn fine one. I’m guessing reading comprehension wasn’t your strong suit.

    • Chris, your post about mixing politics into business is a mute issue considering the amount of politics mixed in with social media and their attacks on conservatives. I assume you’ve had your head stuck in the sand for the entire year of 2020. Amazon killed off Parlor for their free speech views by shutting off access to the server space Amazon rented to Parler. Personally, Gallos sucks. I’ve had better food and service at La Mex. Do us all a favor and pack your bags and go back south, we don’t need your kind of negativity here.

    • I think it a good thing to know what taxes one is paying. One should know his costs for goods and services. A tax by any other name is still a tax.

  • A beer costing $5 i.e. 500 cents, paying 10% tax would be 50 cents extra. 25 cents extra is only a 5% tax, to support the necessary police, it is very reasonable and justifiable. Therefore it the Anchorage community supported it.

    • After voting it down twice?

  • The alcohol tax has become a completed operations tax by the way it is being administered by the muni and the bars have a legal right to NOT pay the tax on the mixed drinks. The tax is taxing the drink, the ice in the drink, the power and materials to clean the glass and any mixers put into the drink. Conversely, there exists no tax at the grocery store for any of the mixers in the drinks or the ice. This violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution and needs to be recitfied.

  • One more reason to frequent La Mex!

  • I still think Anchorage overwhelmingly opposed that tax and some dead and moved residents didnt care either way (mail-in-ballots)

    I was reading Anchorage Press recent interview with Chair Rivera. Some of the ANC-Press questions were kinda of ratchet but Chair Rivera was not ratchet at all.

    • That is exactly what happened. The tax on Liquor in Anchorage was already among the highest in the nation (Just go visit Costco in HI and compare prices) Now with the added 5% it is the highest. The mail in ballot system was abused to include people that never vote and this is the result…. It just squeaked through with the “Narrowest” of margins after being soundly defeated twice previously. Also the 5% can and will be varied at will without having to go back to the taxpayers as a Ballot Measure again…. that was the “fine print” that they crafted this BM with…

  • The same people who demanded something be done about the homeless were also the loudest complainers about the liquor tax. No attempts to effectively solve the problem with unhoused residents were welcomed or supported. The real problem is the people who want something for nothing. And I’m not talking about the poor and dispossessed.
    And thank you for letting me know – I won’t frequent any establishment that decides politics is more important than good service. And 25-cents? Give me a break.

    • The homeless problem is completely fixable. Native corporations need to step up the plate and take care of their “share holders”. If they are not willing to take responsibility their share holders, start sending the bill to their corporation. All others- go back to the days of blue tickets. Offer them a one-way ticket to anywhere out of state and sign a iron-clad contract that if they return as vagrants, they will be charged and sentenced to labor to re-pay the ticket cost.

    • Patrice, Your argument is unconvincing. The City of Anchorage has spent much on the homeless or unhomed already and yet the problem has continued to grow exponentially. Evidently more sums administered by the corrupt people in power have made the problem worse. Also where is the empathy for the WOMAN who owns this establishment? The senseless mandates handed down by the same corrupted officials nearly put Her out of business, (unbusinessed in your parlance). Yes please frequent another establishment, perhaps one owned by your former Mayor? BTW, 5% is huge for a business owners bottom line, like the difference between profit and none. So please quit with the ivory tower rhetoric and give us all a break!

    • Why doesn’t the Alaska Mental Health Trust sell or lease it’s millions of dollars of trust land, raise money and build and maintain a proper mental health and drug rehabilitation center? API is not set up for long term drug or mental health rehab and there is no place in Alaska that is. Yet, the trust sits on millions (perhaps billions) of dollars and does nothing to solve the homeless problems. On the other hand, taxes are always the answer. . . .

  • Big hand to Trina Johnson (she gets it) this is a perfect example of what Edward Bernays taught back in the day, and how to fight them with their own propaganda techniques. Now let’s see if Channel 2 see this as a newsworthy story (I’m not holding my breath) but its pretty amusing non the less.

  • If one references Suzanne’s January 28th article, I believe the rub comes from this tax being voted down previously and the mayor/assembly then applying lipstick to the pig and putting it right back onto the next election ballots. The ASD has taken a similar route by taking a behemoth of a bond prop that’s been rejected and then taking pieces of it over subsequent elections and, voila, almost all of it is eventually voted in. In this case, it seems that by including police, first responders…etc, it was enough for people to vote for it. As for Gallos making “way better drinks”, that’s extremely subjective. I don’t “frequent” either place although I have been to both. While my friend enjoys Gallos’ premium margaritas, to me, they taste as if they’re created in a laboratory. Yet, I’m sure both establishments have their own fan base to keep them going. If only the MOA would let them.

  • The people that own LaMex are awesome. My new go to in Anchortown..

  • Who drinks Budweiser at a Mexican Restaurant, especially at $5 a pop…sorry $5.25 a pop?

  • Mayor “pants down” and the left wing Assembly pushed for the Alcohol tax to support the homeless and it was voted DOWN by the citizens of Anchorage. So then “wanna-be mayor” Dumbar, did what always works. He just added a line to the original proposition to support the homeless by adding a line to also use some of the funds to support the the police. If they spend the funds as badly as they did for the Covid relief funds, the funds will be pissed away on the homeless and the police will not be faring any better. However, once the voters saw the name “Police” in the proposition, lights went off in their heads and they passed it. If that hadn’t worked then Dumbar would have sent it through again and added “Firefighters” to the mix.
    By the way, I think La Mex is doing a great job in explaining to their customers why their prices are going up and who is responsible. And they also have great Mexican food!!

  • Did someone throw out the stupid bait? A tax is a tax is a tax. You can pay the extra money, but don’t force me to pay for your opinion. La Mex wants you to know who is stealing your money — the assembly — and how much it is affecting your bottom line.

  • For the record, Forrest Dunbar does not give a rip about raising money for the benefit of homeless people. He likes all tax increases and he will do whatever it takes to start up new ones. In this case, a tax on alcoholic beverages.

    .

    After the man next door to me died, squad after squad of homeless people moved in and moved out of the vacant house. Theft in our neighborhood increased. Some with small children worried about their safety. When these squatters began to destroy the property, I went to the assembly to ask for help. Dunbar’s staff member contacted me after my testimony, BUT Dunbar did absolutely nothing. And neither did APD. Only AFD managed to condemn the property after the squatters tried to cook food in the fireplace and lost control of the fire. The squatters were angry when they realized they could no longer use the mailbox outside to receive their public assistance checks; I observed this first hand.

    .

    No MOA voter should believe that Dunbar has done a good job representing east Anchorage OR that he has the skills necessary to lead the municipality. Given Dunbar’s recently revealed coercive tactics, involving a local religious leader and possibly more people, Dunbar should be removed from the assembly and disqualified to run for mayor.

  • For simply telling the truth? Should we hide the truth if the truth hurts then?

  • Seriously? Do folks understand that Alaska was ALREADY taxing alcohol at one of the highest rates in the entire country? This ORIGINAL (and comparatively heinous) level of taxation was approved, based on Murkowskis specific promise that these issues surrounding addiction would be addressed with the money. It seemed logical to voters, that this would have some positive impact, particularly with the millions upon millions of dollars generated. So then, what the heck happened? THE ALCOHOL TAX MONEY COLLECTED WAS IMMEDIATELY PUT INTO THE GENERAL FUND. EVERY SINGLE CENT. Yep. Since you can’t legally earmark taxation it all went into the pool, then disappeared never to be focused toward the issues under which it was raised. Want to see alcohol taxation money? Look at your roads, or state employees salaries, look at public facilities etc., just don’t look for any therapeutic allocations because now they never make the list. And this BS happens every single year. Why? Because political leaders are often liars and this was a classic bait and switch. Lisa Murkowski could have actually followed through and DONE something about it, focused on solutions, funded new treatment centers and staff etc. SORRY. Ever since the initial tax, and every year since, these millions of Alcohol tax dollars ALREADY fill our coffers. The point? The money to solve this WAS ALREADY PAID AND MORE. The problem was not lack of taxation, it was inept, dishonest and corrupt public officials that took it all in with one promise, then never pointed a cent toward the solution. NOW, WE HAVE ANOTHER ALCOHOL TAX? making us the highest taxed in the USA. Let me ask, what makes anyone think THESE millions will be the ones which finally create steps toward a solution when the previous millions did not? It’s a scam.
    Congratulations politicians, you have hoodwinked Alaskans once again. Access to alcohol, the number of liquor licenses and the tyrannical regulatory environment imposed has ZERO to do with the rate of chronic alcoholism in a given area, otherwise Las Vegas would have the highest rate in the USA which they do not. The entire process and Title4 are a joke. Alaskans need to hold Murkowski responsible for this scheme.

  • This all could have been handled voluntarily through the free market by these so called leaders on the assembly asking businesses to ask their customers for round ups but all this assembly understands is force and coercion under the threat of violence

  • Especially when you can just stay home and drink (3) for the price of one in a restaurant or bar.

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