Fuel and Marijuana Tax Issues Rise at the Assembly Table
Two proposed voting questions obtained a the provisional thumbs-up from the Sitka Assembly last night: – a fuel excise tax and a retail marijuana sales tax.
As KCAW’s Katherine Rose reports, it is still not decided whether any of the tax issues will come up in the October ballot.
The fuel excise tax would add three cents to every gallon of marine and automotive fuel sold at the pump. It would not apply to airplanes or heating fuel. The revenue generated would go to Sitka’s roads and aging port infrastructure.
Marijuana would be taxed at 5% on top of Sitka’s existing sales tax. The additional revenue would go to the Sitka School District Student Activities Fund.
During the public comments, a few people expressed support for the fuel tax. Chris Ystad is vice-president of the Ports and Harbors Commission. He said after talking to other fishermen, most preferred the fuel tax to the expected exponential increase in port tariffs, which are expected to increase by 5-6% each year over the next decade to pay. the replacement of the port of Eliason.
“At first, you know, when you say for the first time, ‘Let’s add another tax’, it’s obviously a bit of Whoa,” he said. “I asked my fellow fishermen and business owners to do the math… compare how many gallons they would burn each year, three cents per gallon, and compare that to what their port rates would do between 5%. and 6%. increase for the foreseeable future in the 2030s. And after explaining that, most people accepted that they preferred to see this tax on fuels. ”
Former Assembly Member Richard Wein asked why the sponsors had not included an amount that the fuel tax would bring revenue to the city.
“I would certainly have liked to hear what the rough estimates should have brought in, which would give an overall idea of how much fuel Sitka is using,” he said. “If people are going to donate, there’s a certain amount of money going in and you can make some very real assumptions about how many gallons are sold. ”
Read our interview with the sponsors of the voting questions here
During the deliberations of the Assembly, Member Kevin Mosher voiced his concerns about the two proposals, in particular the tax on marijuana.
“I feel like it’s basically just tackling one industry,” he said. “The tax they already have is just huge.”
Mosher said he might be prepared to consider a lower rate. “But 5% on top of everything they’re already paying I think is too much,” he said.
Member Thor Christianson said he was unsure how he would vote on either issue if they were to be on the ballot in this fall’s municipal election, but agreed to vote yes at the assembly table.
“Almost any semi-reasonable proposal, I will put it to the voters,” he said. “I don’t know how I would vote for it if and when it happens, but I have no problem letting it go to the voters.”
The assembly unanimously approved the question of the ballot on fuel excise at first reading. The assembly closely approved the marijuana tax proposal in a 3-2 vote with members Valorie Nelson and Kevin Mosher opposing.
The two voting questions will come to the assembly table for a second reading in July. If they receive a final green light from the Assembly, the measures will be added to the ballot for consideration by voters in the municipal elections on October 5.