When the Sitka Assembly meets tonight (6-28-2) it will consider, on final reading, whether to put a new cannabis consumers tax out to the voters this fall.
In early May, assembly members Rebecca Himschoot and Kevin Knox proposed eliminating the standard 6% sales tax on cannabis and replacing it with one that would have gradually increased to 10%. But after hearing pushback from Sitkans in the cannabis industry, they amended the original proposal, reducing the highest tax rate to 8%.
If approved, the proceeds would benefit the Sitka School District’s “Student Activities Fund,” which pays for travel, supplies and other expenses.
In other business, the assembly will consider approving new collective bargaining agreements with the two labor unions representing Sitka’s firefighters and electrical workers.
The city has been negotiating with the firefighters’ union since last November. The new collective bargaining agreement includes an average salary increase of just 8.4 percent for employees. The contract also includes bonuses for employees who earn advanced EMT certifications. According to a memo from the city’s finance department, the new contract terms would mean a budget increase of just over $367,000 for the three-year contract period.
The city has been negotiating with the electrical workers’ union since May– the new collective bargaining agreement includes a 4.5% raise for some employees, but their Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) will be reduced to help cover pension costs. General Foreman, Line Foreman, and Journeyman Lineman positions will see a $4 per hour cut to their hourly rate to help fund a higher employer pension contribution to the Alaska Electrical Pension Fund. The city’s finance department estimates that the increased cost to the city will be just over $1.1 million for the proposed 3-year contract.
Finally, the assembly will consider a resolution to support a clean up of the Tulsequah Chief Mine site. The mine is located in British Columbia, upriver of Juneau on a tributary of the Taku River.
The Sitka Assembly meets at 6 p.m. tonight. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live following Alaska News Nightly.