Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Voters will not be asked this fall whether the Kenai Peninsula Borough should levy a tax on short-term rentals — often called a bed tax — after sponsors within the borough assembly said Tuesday that they will not pursue further discussion on a resolution tabled in June. Members say they will reconsider and bring forward new language this winter.

The resolution on the table sought to create a bed tax of “up to 12%” with a stated goal of raising revenue “to protect the general fund.” Had it passed the assembly, it would have added a question to the ballot asking borough voters if they support the idea.

A slew of people came to testify against the resolution during the assembly’s June 18 meeting. After around 80 minutes of testimony largely coming from people who work for or run hotels, RV parks, short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts, member Kelly Cooper motioned to table the resolution.

Assembly member and sponsor Brent Hibbert, during that meeting, issued a notice that he would remove the resolution from the table during the body’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 9, but during a finance committee meeting earlier that same day, he said he would not be following through.

Vice President Tyson Cox, who also sponsored the resolution, said he intends to continue pursuing the idea. Some of the questions surrounding the resolution could have been tackled during the June meeting, he said, if there had been appetite to discuss the resolution rather than so quickly tabling it.

Among those questions are the amount at which the tax should be set, where revenue will be allocated and how a working group might have input on the proposal.

“I want to make sure that this isn’t something that just goes away,” he said.

Cooper said that she would be working on assembling a working group this coming winter, ultimately bringing something forward “with language that has been drafted by the people in the industry and based on data that we have.”

“I won’t be looking at reviving this,” she said. “I would like to have it be a completed product before it comes to the assembly.”

Cox said that hospitality workers aren’t the only stakeholders in the conversation, instead that all borough residents who pay taxes are.

The resolution saw no further discussion during the full meeting later that evening.

A full recording of the finance committee meeting will be available at kpb.legistar.com.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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