Gas and marijuana taxes problem progress on the assembly desk

The two proposed voting questions include a 5 percent consumer sales tax on marijuana and a 3 cents per gallon fuel consumption tax (KCAW / Cameron Clark).

Two proposed voting questions were cautiously praised by the Sitka gathering last night: – an excise duty on fuels and a sales tax on retail marijuana.

As KCAW’s Katherine Rose reports, it remains to be seen whether one of the two tax issues will come to the vote in October.

The fuel excise tax would add three cents to every gallon of marine and motor fuel sold at the pump. It wouldn’t apply to airplanes or heating oil. The revenue would flow into Sitka’s streets and aging port infrastructure.

Marijuana would be taxed at 5 percent on top of Sitka’s existing sales tax. The additional proceeds would go to the Sitka School District Student Activities Fund.

During a public comment, some people spoke out in favor of the fuel tax. Chris Ystad is Vice Chairman of the Ports and Ports Commission. He said, after speaking with fellow fishermen about it, that most prefer the fuel tax to the planned exponential hike in port dues, which is set to increase by 5 to 6 percent each year for the next decade, to pay for the replacement of Eliason Harbor.

“First of all, you know, when you first say, ‘Let’s add another tax,’ it’s obviously a little whoa,” he said. “I asked my fellow fishermen and business owners to do the math … compare how many gallons they would burn annually, three cents a gallon, to what their port rates would do at 5 to 6%. will increase for the foreseeable future into the 2030s. And after I explained that, most people accepted that they would rather see this fuel tax. ”

Former Congregation MP Richard Wein asked why the sponsors had not included a projected amount of fuel tax for the city.

“I would certainly have liked to hear what the rough estimates would bring, which would give an idea of ​​how much fuel Sitka is using overall,” he said. “When people want to transfer, there is a certain amount of money coming in and you can make certain very real assumptions about how many gallons were sold.”

Read our interview with the ballot sponsors here

During the deliberations of the assembly, Member Kevin Mosher expressed concerns about both proposals, particularly the marijuana tax.

“I feel like it’s basically an industry,” he said. “The tax they already have is just huge.”

Mosher said he might be willing to consider a lower rate. “But I think 5% on top of what they are already paying is too much,” he said.

Member Thor Christianson said he wasn’t sure how he would vote on the ballot in the local elections this fall, but agreed to vote yes at the meeting table.

“I will make almost any reasonably reasonable proposal to the electorate,” he said. “I’m not sure how I would vote for it when the time comes, but I have no problem leaving it to the voters.”

The assembly unanimously approved the vote on fuel consumption tax at first reading. The assembly narrowly approved the marijuana tax proposal with 3-2 votes, with members Valorie Nelson and Kevin Mosher opposed.

Both ballot papers will come to the meeting table for a second reading in July. If the assembly gives them the final go-ahead, the measures will be added to the local elections on October 5th for electoral consideration.