With state cuts, Anchorage Assembly looks for new tax revenue

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Friday, Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera announced a series of town hall meetings that will take place across the municipality next week.

The purpose of this series of meetings is to engage the public in discussions about creating new sources of revenue for the municipality.
To be clear, that means taxes will be the main topic of conversation.

Rivera cited a $100 million cut in funding from the state since 2005 as one of the primary needs for more revenue across the municipality. Last Spring, voters rejected a 5% sales tax on alcohol that was meant to help fund services for Anchorage's homeless population, as well as various public safety needs. In regards to the upcoming election, three different taxes are currently being discussed by the assembly.

Rivera has revamped the 2019 alcohol tax proposal, alongside assembly members Forrest Dunbar and Austin Quinn-Davidson. He says the new language clears up a lot of the confusion about when and how any money raised by the tax would be spent:

  • Providing funding for police and first responders

  • Combating child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence

  • Providing support for substance misuse, prevention and treatment programs, as well as mental and behavioral health programs.

Assemblyman John Weddleton has authored his own version of the alcohol tax as well. Weddleton's version specifies that revenue generated would only go to health and homelessness related issues.

Another option is Eagle River Assemblyman Fred Dyson's 6-year, 3% sales tax proposal. The revenue would be halved between lowering the cost of property taxes and funding public safety measures.

Whether any or each of these options is adopted, the assembly has until January 28 to make a decision over adding items to the 2020 municipal ballot.

The public is invited to attend each town hall meeting, for a presentation about the fiscal state of the municipality, followed by open discussions over what voters want to see on ballots in April.

Meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

January 7 – 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Loussac Library in Anchorage.
January 8 – 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Chugiak High School in Eagle River.
January 9 – 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Community Room in Girdwood.

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