The Sitka Assembly wants to raise property taxes, but also ease the burden on lower income families. To do so, they’re proposing either repealing the sales tax on groceries or subsidizing the electric fund to moderate rate increases. One of these proposals may be approved at their meeting tonight (09-13-16). (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

When the Assembly meets tonight (09-13-16), they’ll determine which of two tax breaks they’ll implement if voters approve raising the property tax cap this fall.

The mill rate has not increased since 1990, when voters capped it at 6 mills. Now, faced with dwindling state funds and a local budget deficit of $2.5 million, the Assembly wants to increase the cap to 8 mills.

In exchange for raising property taxes, the Assembly is looking to ease the burden on either groceries or utility bills. Tonight, they will consider on second and final reading two ordinances – one that would eliminate the sales tax on groceries and the other that would slow down rate increases through a subsidy to the electric fund. Both passed on first reading at the last meeting (08-23-16). 

The city has added a calculator to their website that determines how your property tax would change at 8 mills. 

In new business, the Assembly will also review lease requests from the White Elephant, and from Petro Marine for a new fuel dock, approve the contract for new city attorney Brian Hanson, and consider making the two days after Thanksgiving tax-free holidays.

The Assembly will also receive an update from the Sitka Community Playground Group and the Electric Department. Utility Director Bryan Bertacchi will share projections for Sitka’s energy consumption and different scenarios for future rate increases.

Also on the Assembly’s agenda is a resolution supporting the PFD Automatic Voter Registration act. This proposal, which will appear on the ballot during the general election in November, would allow those applying for a PFD to automatically register to vote. The Assembly will also declare its support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who are protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Assembly meets tonight at 6 p.m. in room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast. Raven Radio will join the meeting live in progress after Alaska News Nightly.