Borough Assembly Could Put Talkeetna Sales Tax to Voters in October

The Mat-Su Borough Assembly is scheduled to consider a sales tax in Talkeetna that would ultimately be decided on the October ballot. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

On Tuesday, Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Randall Kowalke plans to introduce a three-percent sales tax within the Talkeetna Sewer and Water District.

The sewer and water system in Talkeetna has operated in the red for years, and consensus at the local and borough level is that the current user base cannot pay for operations and maintenance without significantly higher high user fees. Randall Kowalke believes that a sales tax could cover that gap. Kowalke says the exact amount of revenue that the tax would raise is still being determined.

“That’s still being worked on. I hope to have more information on it as we’re rolling forward. Since we’re essentially writing a new chapter, here, we’re researching and taking some best educated guesses…”

The Talkeetna Community Council board of directors, the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce, and the Talkeetna Sewer and Water Advisory Board have all written letters of support for the concept of a sales tax to help pay for the sewer and water system. The Council and Advisory Board letters both specified support for a seasonal sales tax, but the current proposal is for a year-round tax.

The first step for the proposed tax is a vote by the Assembly scheduled later this month. Ultimately, though, Kowalke plans to put the question to voters residing inside the sewer and water district.

“By code, we do not need to put that on the ballot, but we are going to put it on the ballot. So, it will be on, I believe it’s October 3rd this year, it will be on that election cycle.”

The concept of funding a service area through a sales tax is a new one in the Mat-Su, and it’s possible that a legal challenge could arise. Randall Kowalke believes the borough is willing to fight such a challenge, should it occur.

“We took—with the borough attorney—a real long, hard look at this. He has a minimal appetite for risk, and, as you can see, it’s being introduced on [May] 2nd.”

After introduction this week, the Assembly is scheduled to hold a public hearing and possible vote on the measure on May 16th.

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