Sales tax initiative won’t go to ballot this year

Kenai Peninsula voters won’t have to decide on a half-percent increase in the sales tax this October, though they still may in 2019.

A citizen group has been trying to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to increase the borough-wide sales tax rate from 3 percent to 3.5 percent, or a 50 cent increase on every $100 spent. The signatures were due Tuesday, but the initiative sponsors informed the Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk’s office that they wouldn’t make it by the deadline for this year’s ballot, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

That doesn’t rule it out entirely, though, Blankenship said.

“(The sponsors) get 90 days from the date when the petition was filed,” she said.

That gives the sponsors until Sept. 24 to turn in all the signatures they need. Once they file the signatures, the clerk’s office has 10 days to review and verify them, after which time the sponsors can get an extension should some of the signatures not count.

Soldotna resident Linda Hutchings, the main sponsor, said the group is about halfway to the 2,200 signatures they need to make it onto the ballot. The group filed the petition less than a month ago, which is not very much time before the deadline for the October ballot information, she said.

With people returning from summer vacation and other major events like Soldotna’s Progress Days, the Kenai Peninsula Fair and Salmonfest coming within the next month, the sponsors will have a chance to ask more people to support the initiative, she said.

“We’re very, very happy with the results that we have had, and plugging on,” she said. “We think we’re going to achieve our goal.”

So far, she said the feedback has been positive and people have been willing to support increasing the tax to support education. Sales tax revenues in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are specifically dedicated to supporting education.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has been wrangling with how to fill a gap in its budget for a year, eyeing multiple types of different revenue but shooting down multiple options, approving a .2 mill property tax increase in June, which only partially covered the deficit. Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce vetoed some of the approved line-item expenditures in the assembly’s approved budget as well, bringing the deficit down below $3 million.

Assembly members Kelly Cooper and Hal Smalley had sponsored an identical ordinance raising the sales tax to 3.5 percent, pending voter approval, but the assembly voted it down before sending it to the ballot. The borough finance department estimated at the time that the increase would bring in about $5 million annually.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@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