Borough assembly gets back into taxes Tuesday

Though the budget is finalized for the upcoming year, the finance battles aren’t done at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly yet.

The assembly approved the fiscal year 2019 budget at its Tuesday meeting, but with only a small property tax increase to support the spending. That reduced the deficit spending left over from the fiscal year 2018 budget some, but not all the way, and the borough can’t use much more of its fund balance without risking going under the required minimum.

Several assembly members and Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce have brought forward revenue suggestions to help fill the remaining budget gap. Three would not require a popular vote, and one would have to go to the ballot.

Assembly member Dale Bagley has proposed two options — one to reduce the seasonal sales tax exemption on nonprepared food items to six months per year from nine and one to implement a 12 percent tax on temporary lodging. The grocery tax repeal wouldn’t require voter approval, though several assembly members said they wouldn’t support it unless it went to voters and Bagley said he would consider adding ballot language. The temporary lodging tax, known as a bed tax, would require voter approval.

Pierce plans to introduce an ordinance enacting an excise tax on cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco and vaping products containing nicotine at the Tuesday meeting. No details were included on the borough’s online agenda, but at the June 5 meeting, Pierce said he expected it would cover the borough’s budget needs. Several assembly members said they supported the idea but needed to see details.

Assembly member Kenn Carpenter has also introduced two measures that would free up or bring in money for the borough. One is an exception to code that would allow the assembly to take $1.75 million out of the borough’s land trust fund to pay for government. It’s a modified version of a proposal Pierce floated earlier this spring to use about $3 million of the land trust fund to fund borough government this year without new taxes in place, but the assembly shot it down.

Carpenter’s other ordinance would change borough code to remove the requirement for voter approval for the assembly to increase the cap on taxable sales in the borough. The borough sales tax currently only applies to the first $500 of a purchase — anything beyond that is exempt from sales tax. The assembly has tried twice in the past three years to increase the sales tax cap at the ballot but voters have shot it down both times.

The assembly meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House is appearing in a new round of ads urging Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ads featuring Young are being paid for by the Conquer COVID Coalition, Young spokesperson Zack Brown said by email Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Young urges vaccination in new ads

Young, 88, “believes the vaccines are safe, effective and can help save lives.”

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
What you need to know about boosters

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility explained

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell (center) presents Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid (left) with a Life-Saving Award for her efforts in rescuing a child from the Kenai River offshore of North Kenai Beach this summer, during a ceremony held by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Oct. 13, 2021. Reid and Kenai River dipnetter Antoine Aridou (far right) rescued the 12-year-old on July 29, 2021. (Photo provided by the Office of the Governor)
Governor recognizes dipnetter, trooper for summer rescue

Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid received a Life-Saving Award and Antoine Aridou received a Governor’s Commendation.

COVID-19 (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 3 more COVID deaths, more than 900 cases

The newly reported deaths push Alaska’s total to 594 COVID fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP)
Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The ship performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades.

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

Most Read