Advocates says alcohol tax offers return big benefit at little cost

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — With municipal election ballots being mailed to registered voters soon, advocates of the proposed alcohol retail sales tax say the revenue from the tax is even more important than when it was originally planned because of a proposed $848 million cut to the state's Department of Health and Social Services.

Revenue from the tax would go to local drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment programs, community behavioral health programs, public safety and homelessness prevention and response, including clearing prohibited campsites.

"Our proposed state budget recommends several very significant cuts, and locally we know that we have been underfunded for quite a bit of time," said Anchorage Homeless Coalition Executive Director Jasmine Khan. "I think that for our community members who are very passionate about our green spaces, our tourism industry, the business impact of visible homelessness, and for community members who are genuinely focused on the needs of other community members, this is a win."

The 5 percent alcohol sales tax would generate around $11 to $14 million each year.

"It's something we need to do because we need to take care of our town," assembly member Dick Traini said. "We've got to make sure Anchorage has the amount of money coming in to take care of the needs of our city, independent of Juneau."

The 5 percent municipal tax is similar to the tax in place on marijuana.

"I think its more important now because we've seen the governor's proposed budget. They're going to gut the money that DHSS get from the state," Traini said.

You can read the full text of Proposition No. 9 here.