Price plans to keep eye on borough changes

Posted: Tuesday, October 08, 2002

The man who led the unsuccessful ballot fight to remove sales taxes on unprepared foods also is watching a proposed ordinance that would amend parts of the borough's sales tax code.

James R. Price of Nikiski, Republican Moderate candidate for the Alaska House of Representatives from House District 34, said he expects to be at tonight's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting when Ordinance 2002-39 is introduced.

"I don't know the specifics of it yet, so I can't really comment on what they are proposing," he said Monday. "I am interested in finding out."

Last week, Peninsula Citizens Against the Grocery Tax, which Price organized, lost its battle for Proposition No. 4, a measure that would have cut the borough's 2-percent sales tax from unprepared foods. That tax cut could have extended to cities within the borough as well.

Price said the successful petition drive that placed the issue before the voters and the fact that roughly 45 percent of voters agreed, demonstrates many residents of the unincorporated areas of the borough think they are being targeted unfairly by municipal taxes.

"The municipalities are running their governments off the backs of rural residents," he said. "As long as that cash cow is available, why should their people pay to run the cities or look for reductions in services?"

Price likened the borough deriving revenue by a sales tax on food to residents of Nikiski -- an unincorporated area -- earning revenue by erecting a tollbooth on the highway and charging visitors to get to Captain Cook State Recreational Area.

"The sales tax on groceries is basically the same thing," he said.

Now that the ballot measure has been turned down, Price said he would take the advice of friends and tune into what the municipalities are doing regarding their sales tax codes. Perhaps, he said, those efforts will lead to fairer municipal tax laws. In any case, he said he intends to keep a close eye on the process and expects to be at tonight's meeting.

As for future efforts regarding the tax on food, Price said he would take a few weeks to regroup and assess the impact of what he called a misinformation campaign by opponents of the tax measure.

"I'll put my nose to the grindstone, repair the damage and try again next year," he said.

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