After a lengthy discussion at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, the Soldotna City Council vote to amend the rate of levy for property taxes to zero for the 2022 fiscal year failed in a motion of three to two.
Because of the failure to amend, the rate will remain at 0.50, effective immediately.
State law requires the city to set the rate of mill levy before June 15 every year.
Council member Dave Carey motioned to set the rate at zero, stating that he’d like to see a two-year moratorium on property taxes.
“This past year has placed many, if not all, residents of Soldotna at a significant disadvantage,” Carey said during the meeting. “I believe that if we let city residents spend their property tax money, they’ll do it in local businesses where the city will collect additional sales tax.”
The council was unsure of the legality of a moratorium on property taxes, so Carey motioned for a zero rate as a placeholder.
He and council member Justin Ruffridge, who were in the minority at the time of the vote, both advocated to set the rate of levy for property taxes at zero mills.
“I think overall I’m in support of eliminating property tax,” Ruffidge said during the discussion. “I’m undecided at this moment but I think overall I’m in support of this concept.”
Carey and Ruffridge were met with opposition from other council members.
Council member Lisa Parker said she was not in support of the amendment.
“Once you eliminate a tax it is very different to put a tax back in place,” she said. “I haven’t heard objection from property owners that the city property taxes are exorbitant and we need to make changes.”
Echoing her concerns was council member Linda F. Hutchings. She said the rate of levy for one of her properties in north Kenai is almost 12, and Girdwood has its rate set at over 13.
“This .50 to is a placeholder and I think we just need to keep it,” Hutchings said.
In the end, council members opposed to the amendment — Hutchings, Parker and Jordan Chilson — were in the majority.
The council will reassess the rate of levy for property taxes in the city of Soldotna again next year, but for now it will remain at 0.50.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at email@example.com.