Assembly: Taxes, red light cameras, fluoride won’t go on April ballot
Updated at 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25
Two different taxes, red light cameras and fluoride were topics of discussion at Tuesday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting. All four ordinances would have posed a question to voters, but none of them will appear on the ballot in April.
Assembly member Bill Evans submitted an ordinance to ask voters to adopt a 4 percent sales tax. The tax would fall under the tax cap, taking some of the burden off of property owners and diversifying the tax base. It needed the votes of eight Assembly members to go on the ballot, but only six voted yes.
Elvi Gray-Jackson, Patrick Flynn, Pete Petersen, Forrest Dunbar and Dick Traini voted against it.
“My constituents, I’ve talked to them, they said, ‘Please don’t vote for this,'” Traini said. “Besides that, this will force us to hire 34 people, according to our own people. So we keep hearing about the talk of reducing the government — you vote for this you’re voting to hire 34 more people to put this into effect. And I don’t think the public’s going to want that, so I’m a no vote on this.”
But Traini did support an increase to Anchorage’s bed tax. He submitted an ordinance to ask voters to increase the tax for stays at hotels, motels as well as bed and breakfasts from 12 percent to 14 percent. The extra funds would go toward public safety and tourism.
Representatives from the hospitality industry strongly opposed the measure.
“The average tax rate of other boroughs and communities in Alaska is 6.7 percent and we’re already almost double that as it stands now,” Eric Fullerton, with Alyeska Resort, testified.
The Assembly voted to postpone deciding on the ordinance indefinitely.
Members also decided against an ordinance that would ask voters for permission to start using traffic cameras to ticket red light runners.
Responding to a group of Anchorage residents’ efforts to collect signatures for a ballot initiative, Assembly member Amy Demboski submitted an ordinance that would allow an advisory vote on whether or not the municipality should continue adding fluoride to Anchorage’s water supply.
The ordinance failed, with only Demboski voting yes. The group plans to continue gathering signatures to get the issue on the April ballot, which would bypass the Assembly’s vote.
Another ordinance was introduced that would ban pot shops from offering discounts to active duty military members. Assembly member Forrest Dunbar proposed the measure and Dick Traini co-sponsored the bill. It will be up for a vote in February.
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