Local News

Tax changes bring more testimony, little action

The Sitka Assembly advanced changes to the senior citizen sales tax exemption at its regular meeting last night. The proposal would limit the exemption to seniors who pass a low-income means test.

Another plan is on hold. The proposal to raise the sales tax cap from $1,000 to $1,500 has been delayed until April 10. Assembly members voted to change the effective date to Sept. 1, but had questions about language in the ordinance that determines what can and cannot be grouped together to add up to the cap.

Both of those measures are designed to bring more money into the city. Residents who testified said they were concerned that sales taxes are regressive, and requiring more people to pay them during a bad economy would hurt both citizens and retailers.

Eugene Solovyov suggested raising money by bringing more visitors to pay the tax, perhaps by building a deepwater dock near downtown. Tam Fondell said citizens want to see government make cuts before asking for money.

A third tax plan, to redistribute fish box tax money, failed last night, but did not die. Four votes are needed to kill an ordinance, and last night’s vote against the measure was 2 to 3. The proposal would redistribute money from a $10 flat fee on fish boxes, by taking some of it from fish enhancement and the general fund, and giving more to the city’s harbor department.

The tax is levied on charter operators, who oppose the fee altogether.

All of the measures will require more Assembly action before becoming law.

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