Denali Borough ponders taxes

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Denali Borough needs nearly $600,000 to pay for school maintenance projects, so its assembly is considering utility, sales and excursion taxes to help raise the money.

''There's going to have to be something,'' said assembly member Teresa Hall.

Currently, the 10-year-old borough collects a 7 percent bed tax and a minor mineral tax to pay for limited services, such as schools and a landfill.

An ordinance to establish a luxury tax, which called for tourist-driven businesses such as restaurants, gift shops and tour companies to collect a 3 percent tax from their customers, was postponed indefinitely earlier this month.

''The one thing we do know is that no one here is ready for zoning, planning or taxation of the land,'' said assembly member Sharlene Berg.

Both utility and sales taxes have previously been rejected by the voters.

Assembly members are considering an excursion tax, which is similar to the abandoned luxury tax, but are still deciding the details. The excursion tax would also be tourist-driven.

''It's probably our best bet for something the voters will vote in,'' said assembly member Gerald Pollock. ''We're trying to be practical on this. None of us are very happy about any taxes at all.''

Berg agrees. ''I can't imagine our community being ready to embrace any other type of tax.''

Hall, however, said she thinks going only after the tourists is unfair.

''It's time for the local people to reach into their own pockets,'' she said.

The assembly hopes to have a proposal to present to voters this spring.

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