A sign in downtown Seldovia is photographed on Sept. 27, 2021. (Peninsula Clarion file)

A sign in downtown Seldovia is photographed on Sept. 27, 2021. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Seldovia increases sales tax to fund new grader

The tax increase will bump Seldovia’s sales tax during the second and third quarter from 4.5% to 6.5%.

Voters in the City of Seldovia approved an increase in the city’s summer sales tax that could go into effect as soon as April of 2022. The measure is intended help pay off debt the city incurred through the purchase of a grader for the city.

The tax increase will bump Seldovia’s sales tax during the second and third quarter from 4.5% to 6.5%. The second and third quarters run from April 1 to Sept. 30. The city’s sales tax during quarters one and four is 2.5%.

Preliminary election results showed the proposition failing by just three votes, but absentee ballots pushed that to approval of the proposition by a vote of 49 to 45. Revenue generated after debt incurred via the purchase of a grader would be used to fund Seldovia’s Public Works and Maintenance Department, according to the city.

On a city web page launched to answer community questions about the tax increase and the grader, the city describes the grader as an “essential” part of Seldovia’s maintenance fleet. Among other things, the grader is used to maintain roads and plow snow. Additionally, the city uses the grader to strip ice buildup from hills and intersections.

“A road grader is necessary in order to maintain City roads and fulfil the Seldovia Safe Roads Program, and City roads in need of maintenance could not be addressed by City staff if the City did not have the funding to acquire material necessary to maintain City roads or a functioning road grader,” legislation passed by the Seldovia City Council in August says.

Seldovia’s current grader is almost 40 years old and is at the end of its useful life. For example, a worn transmission control means people operating the grader do not always know what gear they’re in, which the city said poses a risk to both the machine and to surrounding property. The grader also has extreme wear associated with multiple systems and balding tires.

“Even with a preventative maintenance schedule in place, staff fear that critical systems will give out at any moment,” the city’s website says.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved for introduction legislation approving $8,100 to help change over the system during their Oct. 26 meeting. That work, according to a memo from Kenai Peninsula Borough Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh to the assembly, included software changes, postage and advertising, among other things.

More information about the sales tax increase can be found on the city’s website at cityofseldovia.com.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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