Talkeetna Community Council seats new member, recommends sales tax changes

The Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors began its December meeting by seating a new member, Ali Lee. She takes the seat vacated last month by former board member Chris Grabowski. Lee was the only candidate to apply for the vacant seat.

The board also approved the disbursement of grants as recommended by the Talkeetna Community Council’s revenue sharing committee. The council has $19,300 to give, and received more than double that in requests. The two largest grant recipients are the Upper Susitna Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels. Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. also set aside more than $1,500 for insurance and website operations for itself. The complete list of grantees is listed below.

In its final action at Monday’s meeting, the board voted to send a letter to the Mat-Su Borough Assembly recommending changes to the voter-approved sales tax that passed in October. Money raised through the three-percent sales tax is to be spent on the Talkeetna Sewer and Water system, which has run at a significant deficit for years and has experienced multiple permit compliance issues in recent years.

In a draft letter, board member Paul Button expressed concern about the fact that utilities for residents will be subject to the year-round sales tax as it is currently written. The letter states that the intent of the tax should be to collect revenue for the sewer and water system from the thousands of annual visitors who utilize it, rather than adding additional burdens to those who already pay into the system through utility bills.

Another concern listed in the letter is the lack of a cap on taxable transactions. Initially, the draft ordinance for the tax included a ceiling of one thousand taxable dollars per transaction. The Talkeetna Sewer and Water Advisory Board originally asked for that cap to be removed to prevent large tourism businesses from getting around the tax by purchasing tickets for tours and other services in bulk. That change appears to have opened the door for unintended consequences, however, including guided hunting and climbing trips as well as bulk fuel purchases and other high-dollar transactions. The letter asks that a cap be reinstated to avoid harming those businesses, and that language be added to address the bundling concern for tourism purchases.

Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Randall Kowalke was at Monday’s meeting, and says the letter will be taken under advisement.


TCCI Revenue Sharing

Talkeenta Community Council, Inc. – $1,800

Upper Susitna Food Pantry – $4,500

Denali Arts Council – $1,500

Talkeetna Community Schools – $1,000

Talkeetna Elementary PTA (art supplies) – $1,000

Talkeetna Elementary, Artist in Residence – $500

Talkeetna Elem. Outdoor Learning Space – $500

Friends of the Talkeetna Library – $750

Susitna River Coalition – $1,000

Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation District – $1,000

KTNA – $700

Gov’t Lot 9 Archaeology – $1,000

Northern Susitna Institute – $1,050

Talkeetna Historical Society – $1,000

Meals on Wheels – $2,000

Total:  $19,300

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