Saying he became involved with the debate over Proposition 2 to raise people’s level of awareness on the measure, Kenai businessman and former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre told business leaders to vote “No” on the proposition next week.
“You ought to vote, ‘No.’ You ought to turn this down. For the future of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, vote, ‘No’ on Proposition 2,” Navarre said during a presentation to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Navarre said if Proposition 2 is defeated, borough Ordinance 2005-09 enacted by the borough assembly June 7, 2005, goes into effect immediately.
“It doesn’t change the tax. It preserves the ability of borough government to change the tax,” he said.
Ordinance 2005-09, increases sales tax in the borough to 3 percent; calculates recreational package sales tax on a per-person, per-day basis; and moves a portion of the Land Trust Fund balance to the borough general fund.
Proposition 2 asks voters whether the ordinance should be repealed.
Navarre told the business group borough Mayor John Williams recently introduced another ordinance that would leave the borough sales tax at 2 percent.
Williams, who was in the audience, said 1 cent in sales tax raises about $8.3 million, which is the equivalent of 1.7 mills in property tax.
Navarre gave the business leaders a rundown on the history of taxes in the borough, saying in 1964, voters approved allowing the sales tax to increase up to 3 percent, with all the revenue dedicated to funding borough schools.
He said in 1966 voters approved a property tax, and last year ballot initiatives 4 and 5 limited capital spending to $1 million without the approval of 60 percent of voters and limited the borough sales tax at 2 percent.
In March last year, the borough assembly passed Ordinance 2005-09.
“We have a responsibility ... to work for things you believe in,” Navarre said.
“The perception about government and people in politics is they’re bad. They’re not. They’re good people trying to do their best,” he said.
“People in government don’t want to raise your taxes,” Navarre said. “If they need more school funding, they will look at some other area to cut.”
He said only 28 percent of registered voters approved ballot initiatives 4 and 5 by a simple majority.
“Now we have a little over 50 percent of the people saying, if the borough wants to change the tax in the future, 40 percent of the people can stop it,” Navarre said.
“That’s not how our country is set up. We elect people with a simple majority and we pass laws with a simple majority,” he said.
Navarre added that the 60 percent supermajority requirement has not yet been tested in the courts.
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