Voters to decide taxing power

Initiative would mean borough sales tax couldn't change without a vote

Posted: Monday, August 01, 2005

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will have the chance in October to decide if the assembly should increase the borough sales tax without a vote of the people.

The Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers filed a petition with about 2,200 signatures to put an initiative on the October municipal election ballot that will freeze the borough sales tax at its current rate and make it so the rate can only be increased with 60 percent voter approval, according to an ACT press release.

ACT is a group of citizens who advocate for efficient government, according to the group's president, Mike McBride.

Before the petition can be certified the borough clerk's office has to verify the signatures. To put a boroughwide initiative on the ballot, 1,530 verifiable signatures are needed.

"It was such an easy petition to do," McBride said. "We feel very confident that we'll get the 1,530 (signatures)," McBride said.

He said most people who were asked to sign the petition said it made sense and it is an easy issue to understand.

The current sales tax rate is 2 percent on the first $500 in retail sales.

The assembly approved a sales tax increase to 3 percent effective Oct. 1.

If this initiative passes, it will roll back the sales tax increase to the current 2 percent rate and future increases would require 60 percent voter approval.

Citing state statutes, ACT says that the assembly's sales tax increase is illegal.

Assembly President Gary Superman said he wanted to withhold comment until the petition is certified by the clerk's office.

"If the people feel that this needs to be done, it's going to be up to the folks," said assembly member Paul Fischer. "That's the whole purpose of an initiative. If they want to change something and the assembly is not receptive of their ideas, then they go get the signatures."

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