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Voters to decide on sales tax, redistricting issues in election

Borough mayor opposing both tax-increasing issues

Posted: August 31, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: August 31, 2011 - 10:08am

In October’s borough election, residents will have a say in at least three issues placed on the ballot that deal with sales tax and how they are represented.

In total, the Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly approved five measures for placement on the ballot. However, two of those — one to abolish the Lowell Point emergency service area and one to create a recreational service area in Seldovia — will only be up for decision by voters in those areas.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey said he would not support either of the two ballot measures concerning sales tax increases.

The first is the repeal of the seasonal sales tax exemption on non-prepared food items in the borough.

Currently, all sales of non-prepared food items are exempt from regular borough sales tax from Sept. 1 through May 31 as stipulated by Ordinance 2008-01, which was approved by voters in the 2008 regular election.

Carey said one of the questions he and others originally had about the measure was how much it would cut from funding for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District considering the borough’s 3 percent sales tax is dedicated to school funding.

In 2009, the exemption resulted in a loss of $1.5 million in revenues and $2.8 million in revenues during 2010, according to election information from the borough.

“There were a number of people that as we reduced our local funding to the schools said they did not realize that initiative would take (away) sales tax money that would have otherwise gone to schools,” Carey said. “As a result, we put more property tax money into it.”

Carey said he thought it was important to allow residents to have another look at the idea for that reason and also considering the borough hasn’t been funding the school district to the cap.

“Without these funds, it is particularly difficult to fund the schools at the levels they request,” he said.

Although Carey said he could see both sides of the issue, he would not support the repeal of the exemption.

“I am not in favor of any tax increases at this time and this technically would be an increase in taxes,” he said.

The other tax issue borough voters will weigh is whether or not to increase the borough-wide sales tax from 3 percent to 3.1 percent for funding of economic development.

Carey said several non-departmental organizations said they would like to have a steady source of income, instead of being at the mercy of the assembly and so they “would not have the discussion every year back and forth.”

According to borough election information, the .1 percent increase would raise $900,000 annually. The increase would amount to an additional 1 cent on a $10 sale, or 10 cents on a $100 sale.

“That is quite a bit more than what we fund tourism and marketing and they saw it would also help the chambers of commerce and the cities,” Carey said. “There were a number of things they felt they could do with those funds.”

The ballot question also stipulates the borough must enter into agreements with all cities in the borough to “jointly or cooperatively provide for economic development.”

Increasing the sales tax, according to borough election information, would also relieve some of the burden from property owners and shift it to all borough residents.

Before voting to place the measure on the ballot, the assembly debated how and if the borough’s non-departmental agencies would get a slice of the revenues, but left that to be determined later.

Those non-departmentals include the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, Small Business Development Center, and the Central Area Rural Transit System.

“I have not seen how exactly they would give out these funds and that was part of the discussion even at the assembly level,” Carey said.

However, Carey said he would still not support the measure.

“I have a concern that if we start, ‘Oh it’s just .1 percent now,’ If we start doing that now, I see there will be additional increases in sales tax for other good and legitimate things, but I want to hold sales tax for funding of education,” he said.

Voters will also have a chance to decide if they would like to change how many members sit on the assembly and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education.

As required by law, a reapportionment committee met throughout May and June across the Peninsula to hear public feedback about restructuring and redrawing borough district lines to fit with the results of the 2010 Census.

The committee suggested letting voters choose between two plans — a nine-district plan or an 11-district plan.

A nine-district plan would realign existing boundaries for both boards to contain about 6,156 residents. The 11-district plan would create districts containing 5,036 residents, however it would cost $48,000 annually for assembly members, and $35,000 per year for school board members.

If approved, the 11 seats on both boards would be filled in the October 2012 election and would be staggered so three members would be elected for a one-year term, four would be elected to two-year terms and four would be elected to three-year terms.

Although Carey said he strongly advocated for the creation of three, three-member districts instead of the current system, he would be voting on the nine-district plan to conserve money.

“I haven’t seen anything to show me that with 11 members, there will be greater representation for people,” he said.

Residents have until Sept. 2 to register to vote in the borough-wide general election, which will include the borough mayor’s seat, three borough assembly seats and three school board seats.

Also up for grabs are 34 board seats in the 11 various service areas across the Peninsula.

Voter information, details and forms can be found online at www2.borough.kenai.ak.us/AssemblyClerk/Assembly/ELECTIONS_NEW/KPB_Elections.htm and www.elections.alaska.gov.

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witchwitch
51
Points
witchwitch 08/31/11 - 08:59 am
0
0
Vote NO on Prop 1

The Grocery Tax exemption saves local residents 3% sales tax on all local grocery purchases for 9 months every year. This exemption approved by all Borough voters in 2008. The Borough Assembly wants to end this exemption and raise your taxes.

Local families and residents would pay this tax increase. No other tax is so regressive, as this tax would be paid exclusively by local residents. This Borough proposed tax increase would target families. Most Boroughs don't tax groceries and most states don't tax groceries.

The current exemption allows the tax to be collected during the summer (June through August), which allows taxation while tourists are visiting our Borough.

Please protect this beneficial and necessary tax exemption that was approved by over 60% of Borough voters in 2008. Please tell the Borough that there are better ways to raise revenue that to place such an onerous tax on local residents. Please tell the Borough to respect the local voters wishes.

Please vote NO on Borough Proposition 1 !

silver-salmon
0
Points
silver-salmon 08/31/11 - 11:09 am
0
0
Not funding up to schools requests?

In my estimation and experience, any entity that receives tax dollars will never get enough according to their WANTS.
I have worked in the borough some years ago and found more waste than I care to stomach.
Limit the waste and there will be plenty of money to fund everything we NEED.

denali8
6
Points
denali8 08/31/11 - 08:08 pm
0
0
i don't pay property taxes in

i don't pay property taxes in the city limits, so i don't mind paying a city tax on foods as i also get to use the FREE libraries, and enjoy the parades and other things the cities provide, my sons were educated in this system and have no problem w/making sure our younger kids getting a good education

silver-salmon
0
Points
silver-salmon 08/31/11 - 08:21 pm
0
0
Don't pay property taxes?

You do pay Borough Property Taxes if you live in the borough and are a property owner.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 09/01/11 - 06:59 am
0
0
Debit Card Fee ? 9/1/11

FYI: Last week I attempted to Pay my personal property taxes with my Debit Card at the Cashier's Window/Boro. Bldg
Then I learned that the Boro would charge a additional $25.00 fee for using my Debit Card.
So then I went to my Bank to transfer funds from Savings to Checking to pay the personal property tax by personal check.

One of the Bank Managers informed me that I should NOT have been charged a additonal $25.00 fee for using my Debit Card.

Boro. Cashier states $25.00 fee
Bank Manager states NOT on the $25.00 fee

So Who is Correct here ?

Anyone got a actual Answer to that Question ?

SPW "Airborne"

drudge
3
Points
drudge 09/01/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
@spwright

"The new swipe fee regulation, approved as part of last year's Wall Street overhaul law, goes into effect next month. It would cap debit card swipe fees to 12 cents per transaction. Fees now average 44 cents."

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/08/news/la-pn-swipe-fee-bill-20110608

Note that this is the fee that is charged to the merchant (in this case, the Borough building).. Most merchants will work this cost into the price of their products, but in this case they're simply charging a $25 fee.

I guess they just couldn't say no to a 20,000% profit on transactions.

silver-salmon
0
Points
silver-salmon 09/01/11 - 08:40 am
0
0
Sometimes no money

I tried to pay my property taxes a few years back with my credit card also. I was wanting to get air miles but I understand others wanting to spread their taxes over the next year to pay for them.
But, if you don't pay them off the next credit card bill, you will still have to pay interest on top of the 25.00 they charge for using this service.
I'm not real happy about the charge because the gov. is again limiting me on how I do business. It's not enough to pay, they tell you how you must do it. Wait til they ask you to pay it in bullion:-)

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 09/01/11 - 11:57 am
0
0
Pennies 9/1/11

Thur 9/1/11
How about If We ALL paid our personal property taxes with
PENNIES ! Now wouldn't that [filtered word] them Off !

It's "legal tender" & official money.

I remember that being done years ago & it made the front page of the newspaper.
Don't remember how that turned out ?

Now of course it would be the poor Boro Cashier that would be stuck with counting 1000's of PENNIES & not the upper management that makes the payment policies.

Debit Card issue: many of our local vendors & businesses won't even accept a personal check anymore & we are forced to switch to debit cards. But the Boro Cashier wants to charge a additional $25.00 to use a Debit Card ?

SPW "Airborne"

drudge
3
Points
drudge 09/01/11 - 12:28 pm
0
0
@spwright

http://www.snopes.com/business/money/pennies.asp

"If a restaurant doesn't want to take any currency larger than $20 bills, or they don't want to take pennies at all, or they want to be paid in nothing but dimes, they're entitled to do so. Businesses are free to accept or reject pennies as they see fit; no law specifies that pennies cease to be considered legal tender when proffered in quantities over a particular amount."

So, you're not breaking any law by paying in pennies, and they're not breaking any law by refusing your pennies as payment.

They'll likely refer you to a bank with a coin-counting machine. Otherwise, you'll have to put them into rolls for the bank to exchange them to a higher denomination.

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 09/01/11 - 01:14 pm
0
0
Pennies indeed

There really isn't a "perfect" legal tender, spwright. Many vendors do not like the fees they incur when accepting credit and debit cards, so they ban them, or impose a minimum purchase amount. Still others aren't equipped to process them. Checks are handy because anyone can process them, and there's no transaction fee. But of course many vendors are turning those down because of NSF's and the difficulty of recouping costs when that happens. So you'd THINK it's a great idea to just carry cash. But sure enough, the other day I went to buy vegs and guess who couldn't make change for a $20? Yep, they weren't willing to take a loss and I wasn't willing to pay extra... both reasonable positions. So it would appear that PENNIES really are the perfect tender.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 09/02/11 - 05:29 am
0
0
Vote will not count

It matters not how the vote goes for Prop 1.The assembly will find a way to say the voters were wrong.So! why bother if your vote is to be usurped?

witchwitch
51
Points
witchwitch 09/03/11 - 11:25 pm
0
0
If you don't fight, you can't win...

If you roll over to every demand from the Borough, how much do you think they would demand? Every special interest group would have everything their heart desired.

Mike Navarre would have the Borough build a new stadium/sports center. Dale Bagley would have had the Borough construct a private prison.

When you fail to stand up, you'll get run over. John Williams increased sales taxes 50%, from 2% to 3%. Was the enough? Obviously not. He also purchased the software for over $100,000 that automatically runs up everyone's assessments. That's why property taxes are through the roof.

If you want more of the same, just roll over and fail to vote. The special interest recipients of OUR tax dollars will vote and they will give thousands to their candidates to get what they want.

I prefer to fight and to vote.

The Borough did usurp half the tax savings by granting the cities to collect the tax anyway, through Ordinance 2008-28. Here's the link: http://www2.borough.kenai.ak.us/AssemblyClerk/Assembly/Ordinances/2008/O2008-28.pdf

There was a referendum filed and denied by the Borough. There is a lawsuit now ongoing to fight for the people's right to overturn this ordinance.

Justice and freedom was not granted, it was taken.
I would rather fight than lie down and I appreciate those who have opposed all the unjust acts preformed by our money hungry Borough Assembly.

denali8
6
Points
denali8 09/06/11 - 02:49 pm
0
0
payment methods

i think any US coin or bill is lawful tender that must be accepted on any debt, public or private, but as far as payin g a bill with something like 10,000 loose pennies can be rejected as the reciever can insist that they be properly wrapped. as far as i know there is not any fees imposed by banks for using debit cards, as someone stated above that some businesses don't accept cvhecks, some will process a check as if a debit card, ie 3 bears and walmart, and they don't charge any fees for using it, there is some law that allows enstar and other entities may charge a fee for using a creit card, and i doubt that caries over to a debit card, many debit cards are also credit cards, does the boro accept debit cards?????????? i don't know
i love cash

MelanieWard
0
Points
MelanieWard 11/21/11 - 01:15 pm
0
0
@drudge, you're spot on! It's

@drudge, you're spot on! It's really disgusting that there was legislation looking out for the little guy for once and now banks are looking for other ways to recoup their lost earnings! It should not be passed on to consumers!

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