TCCI and community members discuss benefits of sales tax to support woes of Talkeetna Water and Sewer

The Water and Sewer Board has been working for years to find a solution to the incurring debt of the Water and Sewer System of Talkeetna.

During Monday’s Talkeetna Community Council Meeting, board members and residents discussed the possibility of a general sales tax for the service area.

At the February Talkeetna Community Council meeting, Randall Kowalke (Koh-ALL-kee) asked for a letter of support from TCCI.

If supported, Kowalke would like to take the idea to the ballot next October. The people who live inside the district would be the ones who would be able to vote.

The idea of a sales tax would be on any sale in the area, including things like scenic flights, food services, gifts and more. The exact amount of the sales tax is yet to be determined.

A few residents spoke in favor of a sales tax. Sarah Birdsall said that she would totally support this, as the community has been talking about this sales tax for years.

Brian Okonek added that the tax seems like a very good idea. “The tourists do put a strain on the system,” he said. “It would be excellent if you could tap into that tourist money in the summertime.” Several other community members spoke out in favor of this tax.

Joe McAneney, who serves as chair of the Water and Sewer Board, said Randall Kowalke wants all business owners in town to talk about this and if the overall consensus is in favor, he will work with a written proposal to the Mat-Su Borough. McAneney added that neither a property tax nor quadrupling the rates are good options.

Long time resident Robert Gerlach stated that raising the rates on the individual users is not the solution. He thinks that a seasonal sales tax on revenue downtown is a good, fair way to spread the cost to the high users, which are the tourists.

All of Talkeetna Community Council Inc. board members voted in favor of the letter of support for the sales tax.

Paul Button, who is on both TCCI and Talkeetna Water and Sewer Boards, has previous experience as an engineer on rate studies.

He anticipates that there will also need to be changes in the rate structure to make it more equitable.

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