Assembly lowers threshold for voters to change sales tax rate, postpones vote on by-mail elections

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:00pm
  • News

Discussion of voters and taxes dominated a nearly four-hour meeting Tuesday night.

While the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly postponed its vote on an ordinance that would require borough elections to be held by mail, it did narrowly pass an ordinance to change the 60 percent voter approval requirement to a simple majority to increase the cap on sales tax.

Assembly member Brent Johnson sponsored the ordinance. He gave three reasons for introducing the ordinance.

According to borough code, sales tax can only be applied to the first $500 of each sale. Johnson said while that number stays the same, inflation occurs, so it is “improper to set it at a super-majority threshold.”

Voters passed the initiative to set the 60 percent requirement to change the sales tax in 2005 by 54.2 percent. Johnson said while it’s noble to try to keep taxes down, he doesn’t think it’s noble that 54 percent of voters can set a 60 percent threshold.

“Could they have chose 70 percent?” Johnson said. “Could 51 percent of the people choose a threshold of 80 percent? It’s completely capricious.”

He said it is a matter of equality. Considering the issue by individuals, if someone wants to change the sales tax, his or her vote isn’t equal to those who do not want change.

“Everybody is equal and everybody should have an equal vote,” Johnson said.

Assembly member Charlie Pierce said he can see the merits in the presented points, but didn’t want to undermine the initiative process.

Assembly member Kelly Wolf said it was an “embarrassment” to consider the ordinance; the assembly needs to listen to the voters.

If there is a funding crisis, assembly member Wayne Ogle said voters can consider that and he doesn’t think there will be a problem to get 60 percent of voters to pass a sales tax increase.

Johnson said he doesn’t like to get into a crisis and have to scramble to adjust funds to account for a crisis.

The ordinance passed with five votes in favor cast by assembly members Johnson, Bill Smith, Hal Smalley, Sue McClure and Mako Haggerty.

The assembly postponed an ordinance to hold elections by-mail to the July 1 meeting to allow for time for a resolution to come forward to ask for an advisory vote at the Oct. 7 election.

Assembly member Dale Bagley said an ordinance that changes the way elections are held should go to voters.

“I just think going through a process to vote on this would be very good education for people in the borough,” he said.

A consent agenda item to introduce an ordinance to put a proposition on the Oct.7 ballot to implement a 4 percent bed tax was taken up in the regular agenda. After hearing from multiple members of the public at the meeting, the assembly voted to hold two public hearings on the issue at 6 p.m. at the July 1 and July 22 assembly meetings in the assembly chambers at the George A. Navarre Administration Building in Soldotna.

Reach Kaylee Osowski at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

A Homer Volunteer Fire Department emergency medical technician, left, assists a person who was involved in a boat capsizing, center, as they walk up the load-launch ramp on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at the Homer Harbor in Homer, Alaska. The crew of the F/V Captain Cook helped rescue the person. The crew of the F/V Casino rescued the other two people who were aboard the 14-foot skiff when it capsized near the entrance of China Poot Bay. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
1 dead, 2 rescued after boat capsizes near China Poot Bay

A 14-foot skiff carrying three people overturned near Gull Island in the mouth of China Poot Bay.

The Kenai River and Skilak Lake are seen from the Hideout Trail in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, July 5, 2020, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Public comment open on proposed refuge changes

State could get more power over regulation refuge

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
10 new COVID-19 cases on the Kenai Peninsula

Statewide, 49 new cases in total were identified: 40 resident cases and nine nonresident cases.

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna is seen here on June 1. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly overrides veto of hybrid election system

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted to override a mayoral… Continue reading

Parker Rose and Kendra Rose, members of the Sterling Horse and Livestock 4-H Club, are seen here with their miniature donkey on April 23, 2020. (Photo courtesy Cassy Rankin/Kenai Peninsula District 4-H)
Keeping cows and carrying on

4-H looks for alternative ways to host animal auction

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

A chart produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shows four risk factors in being infected by COVID-19. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
17th Alaskan dies of COVID-19

There were 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday.

Noah and Eddie Land of Grace Acres Farm in Kasilof set out produce Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at the Farmers Fresh Market at Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Freshness times 2

DoubleUp program helps seniors, families eat healthy

In this July 20, 2013 file photo, several thousand dipnetters converged onto the mouth of the Kenai River to catch a share of the late run of sockeye salmon headed into the river in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo/Rashah McChesney)
Dipnetters banned from retaining kings

Dipnetting on the Kenai River opens Friday.

Most Read