Mayor vetoes bed tax

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre vetoed the proposed 3 percent borough-wide bed tax, subject to voter approval, Monday.

“I don’t really like dedicated taxes personally,” he said.

After hearing a lot of opposition from Homer constituents, Navarre said he didn’t like that if the rest of the borough votes for a bed tax, that Homer would be stuck with it “whether they like it or not.”

Funds collected through the bed tax were proposed to go to promote tourism marketing of the peninsula. The borough currently funds the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Market Council $300,000 annually to promote tourism. Navarre said if the council wants additional money, it can make an argument for it.

“Raising $1.6 million in order to fund tourism marketing non-area-wide, it’s just not a very efficient way of raising revenues,” he said.

According to a memo from Navarre to the borough assembly, a better approach would be for the assembly to authorize general law cities to implement a bed tax by voter approval.

He said a tax on all tourism businesses might be more agreeable, but he is not sure if statutes would allow for that.

“The bottom line is if we want to fund (tourism promotion) we have the capability of funding it, we just have to do it in our budget,” he said. “We just have to compete with other priorities in the budget. … Once you start down dedicated taxes, it starts getting pretty confused pretty fast.”

The borough assembly approved putting the item on the Oct. 7 ballot with a 5-4 vote at its July 22 meeting, but assembly member Kelly Wolf gave notice of reconsideration.

According to the memo, the assembly may address overriding the veto by adding it to its agenda for the Tuesday assembly meeting or schedule a special meeting before the clerk’s deadline for adding issues to the ballot.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com

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