Fairbanks borough officials nix employment tax proposal

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has rejected a proposal to put an employment tax before voters.

The tax would have cost each person older than 19 and working in the borough $10 a month.

The tax was called unfair, costly to administer and poorly thought-out, among other things, by assembly members and people testifying before the body Thursday.

''This is absolutely the wrong tax,'' said Merrick Pierce.

Assemblyman Garry Hutchison put forth the ordinance that would have placed the tax on the ballot. The tax was defeated by a 7-1 margin, with Assemblyman David Veazey voting in favor of putting it on the ballot.

The proposal intended to a tax that could offset a property tax decrease.

In an early version, residents earning less than $8,000 a year were exempt, but Hutchison curtailed that provision to $600, thinking he might garner more support from the body.

The opposite happened when Assemblywoman Bonnie Williams expressed dissatisfaction that a $600 exemption would exempt assembly members' salaries. She tried to amend the ordinance to get rid of an exemption altogether but was rebuffed, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Veazey, for his part, said he supported the ordinance because it would have given the electorate a choice on how it wants to diversify the tax base.

''I'm real proud of Garry for bringing this forward,'' he said, ''because we haven't done anything else.''

Hutchison was not at the meeting because he was sitting on a panel about another issue, but he was contacted both before and after the meeting.

Early on, he was grim about the chances of his ordinance passing.

In defense of the measure, he said: ''It treats everybody the same, that's the thing about this. That's what folks want to see: some quality and some evenness.''

Upon hearing the measure didn't pass, Hutchison said he hoped assembly members had other ideas to propose.

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