Fish tax is collected by processors and sent to state.
Traditionally, half comes back to city and borough.
Governor Mike Dunleavy proposes the state keep it all.
A proposal to change how the state’s fishery taxes are allocated will have big ramifications for Alaska’s coastal communities which depend on the tax to balance local budgets.
Known by many as ‘the fish tax,’ the money is collected by processors when fish is delivered. Traditionally, the tax has been split 50-50 with the community of landing.
But the Governor Mike Dunleavy says that money is now needed by the state to balance its budget and he wants to quit sharing it with the fishing towns.
Kodiak City Mayor Pat Branson says the governor’s plan to help the state’s budget is going to make it harder for coastal fishing towns to balance their own budgets.
Branson did not mince words when KMXT spoke with her prior to last month’s legislative hearings on the fish tax.
“Every fishing community has been targeted with this grab, if you will. Of our money, it’s our money, coming across our docks, our infrastructure, that the state’s not paying for. It’s a money grab to try and solve this $1.6 billion deficit in one lop in one fiscal year.”
Kodiak is a big fishing town, one of the top ports in the country, so it should come as no surprise that removing the fish tax will have a big impact on the city.
“Well it will greatly affect the City of Kodiak. This is $859,000 of our annual budget in general revenue. And that means it’s 4-and-a-half percent of our total city budget, or the general fund. So it’s a great effect on not just our municipalities, but municipalities all over the state.”
Branson says local residents throughout the entire borough will feel the effect of the loss in fish tax. Especially when it is compounded by so many other proposed cuts to state funding
The city’s property tax, which needs to be approved by the assembly, is 2 mils. But, you know, this affects the community as a whole. And I want to talk as not just a city, but—and I’m sure Mayor Rohrer will speak to this as well—because the borough gets over a million dollars in fish tax.
So what that means to a community, our residents, along with education funding being decreased, perhaps school bond debt being decreased, this affects all of us. Along with revenue sharing—community assistance—the fish tax going away, this is greatly going to affect our community and the services we try and provide to have quality of life here and to continue our economic engine here, which is the fisheries.
Mayor Branson added that the entire borough, including villages, needs to take a look at what expenses the state proposes to pass on to local communities thereby shifting the costs from state government to local governments.
A chance was made to clarify this story after posting.