Tax initiatives turned down

Petitions from Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers deemed unconstitutional

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Citing ambiguities and errors in their texts and noting they likely would violate state law and the Alaska Constitution, the Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk on Monday rejected two more initiative petitions submitted by the group Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers.

ACT member Patricia Falkenberg submitted the two initiative petitions April 11.

The first, designated 2005-06 by the borough, sought to amend the borough sales tax code to require approval by at least 60 percent of voters before the borough could increase the retail sales tax above 2 percent, or make changes to how the maximum tax was computed.

The second, designated 2005-07, sought to amend Title 5 of the borough code entitled "Revenue and Finance," to require that any increase in the tax rates, changes to how the maximum sales tax was computed, changes to any existing tax exemptions or creation of new forms of taxation also would need approval by at least 60 percent of voters at a regular election.

In a letter sent Monday to Falkenberg, borough Clerk Linda Murphy said both applications contained grammatical and other technical errors that should be corrected. Beyond that, she said both applications were ambiguous, and that even using a "narrow construction" of the rules for initiatives, they would "effectively undo numerous prior budgets by invalidating many of the tax laws that were in effect when they were adopted."

State law and the Alaska Constitution prohibit the use of initiatives to make or repeal appropriations. Both the proposed initiatives would do just that, which makes them unenforceable by law, Murphy said.

Last week, Murphy rejected several other initiative petitions from Act, which sought to restrict expenditures on capital projects and to restrict assembly actions concerning property tax changes. Those also were rejected on constitutional grounds.

ACT officials have said documents related to the initiative petitions have been handed over to an attorney and that ACT considers itself to be in the early stages of a legal process to change borough law.

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