The Sitka assembly gave final approval Tuesday night for a sales tax holiday this Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30 – the two days after Thanksgiving.
The assembly also passed on first reading a proposed ordinance that would require the city to make the decision about sales tax holidays earlier in the year.
“Our business community deserves more just a 3 day advance notice that they have the sales tax, as occurred this year,” said assembly member Mike Reif. “This will let them know well in advance, 30 days probably.”
In the past, the assembly has waited to hear from the city finance department about whether revenue from sales taxes are on track to meet or beat the previous year’s numbers, before approving the sales tax holiday. The decision has been made in mid-November to give the office time to crunch the numbers on 3rd quarter sales tax collections.
But assembly member Phyllis Hackett said that may not be necessary going forward.
“I don’t believe that every year we’ve been in good solid position, and we’ve still approved it,” Hackett said. “So it makes me wonder how important it is to have those figures, because we always seem to go for it anyway.”
According to the finance department, the city this year is on track to beat its target for sales tax revenue even with the two-day sales tax holiday.
Hackett added that she hopes Sitkans will shop locally whether or not the tax holidays continue in the future.
“I just can’t stress enough how important it is for our citizens to support our local businesses,” Hackett said. “This is a double-edged sword to me. I’m happy to do it, and it’s wonderful to give this kind of gift to the community. [But] the other side of the sword is it makes me feel like it’s becoming an entitlement again, that people feel like they’re going to shop here because they get this.”
“It’s critically important, we’re an isolated community, we have to support ourselves.”
The ordinance will have to pass on a second reading before it becomes law.