Sales Tax Draws Public Into Council Process

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A possible change to city sales tax drew public outcry this week.

At a recent Kodiak City Council meeting, Debbie Refior was just one of the people to speak about the negative effect of sales tax on local business.

She said in the past there were three car dealerships – now there’s one.

“Kodiak’s my home. It’s been my home for too many years. And I don’t want to see us economically close our doors.”

The fact that people showed up to share their opinions got almost as much attention as the agenda item.

Councilman Randy Bishop said that was the point.

“I believe when we decided to put this ordinance on the table, we were looking to get a reaction from the citizens.”

The ordinance in question would make more sales taxable. To do that, the city would increase the maximum dollar amount that is subject to city sales tax.

Right now, a sale needs to be more than $750 to be exempt from city tax. The city would raise that amount to $3,000.

For months, the city council has been looking into sales tax as one way to solve city budget issues.

Councilman John Whiddon said a large chunk of the general fund comes from sales tax. He explained the city is trying to maintain public services while also balancing the budget.

“I believe that this is a good opportunity to have a discussion, not necessarily about sales tax, but about what we want our community to look like in the years ahead. The 2.8 million dollar revenue deficit we currently have is not a result of mismanagement by the city.”

He said if the city doesn’t increase revenue, it must reduce services.

City council members beseeched the public to weigh-in.

In order to make time to do that, the city council postponed the ordinance for a period of 30 days. The city will schedule a public forum in that time to gather public input.

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