Motion to increase sales tax carries to second reading

Councilmember Melina Meyer and City Manager Alan Lanning listen to comments during the City Council meeting at the Cordova Center on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times

A new tax ordinance added by the Cordova City Council and carried through to a second reading on June 20 would, if passed, boost the city sales tax from six percent to six and a half percent.

The new ordinance was introduced in the wake of the May 15 special election where two tax propositions passed, lowering the sales tax cap from $7,500 to $3,000 and repealing the motor fuel excise tax.

Ordinance 1170 would amend Cordova Municipal Code 5.40.010 to adopt a one-half percent increase to the sales tax levied by the city.

“We haven’t received any revenue since last October of any substantial amount and we won’t really receive any until August,” explained City Manager Alan Lanning. “So, we almost operate a whole year on very little revenue until we get to August, and that just affects our cash flow at the end of the day.”

Council members were hesitant to vote in favor on the first reading, citing uncertainty in the community and needing more time.

“I think at this point and time … it’s anti-taxes on the citizens’ mind,” Councilman David Allison said. “It’ll just end up for a vote again if we don’t give a little bit of time for relaxation. I don’t think this kills our budget for this year.”

Council members James Wiese and Melina Meyer voted for the ordinance with the idea that it would give them and the public more time to decide but keeping the option available.

“This is strictly to replace budget dollars,” said Councilman Jeff Guard, who voted for the motion. “I don’t think the vote of the public was to try to cut the budget by any amount. It was a vote that they didn’t want those specific taxes and this ordinance is strictly to replace the revenues lost by that.”

Council members Allison and Kenneth Jones opposed the ordinance.

“I’m not in favor of taxes, but I am in favor of running a community like it should be run financially,” Guard said.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.