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City Releases Findings From Fall Tax Discussion Meetings

By Abby Hancock, Reporter (Social Issues, Youth Issues, and 2 Your Health), ahancock@ktuu.com
Published On: May 07 2014 06:41:07 PM AKDT

The Municipality of Anchorage released its findings Wednesday from four community dialogues it held on the property tax burden to Anchorage home and business owners.

ANCHORAGE -

The Municipality of Anchorage released its findings Wednesday from four community dialogues it held on the property tax burden to Anchorage home and business owners.

The public discussions took place in October and November 2013. Residents were asked about their opinion on property taxes -- whether they are too high and what options they prefer to offset some of that cost. Property taxes are the single largest contributor to city revenues.

"It's the issue of what strategies can be utilized to diversify the revenues of the city and there were a lot of ideas pointed out," said Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan at a Wednesday press conference.

According to the report, including results from the final questionnaire filled out by nearly 200 people, 73 percent of participants agreed that Anchorage property taxes are too high and burden property owners. Some ideas on how to provide property tax relief included adding an alcohol tax, increasing a cigarette tax or implementing a sales tax.

Sullivan says he favors a more broad-based tax regime, rather than specific sector taxes. However, under city charter, implementation of a sales tax would require approval by 60 percent of Anchorage voters -- a huge hurdle, according to the mayor. Changes to a sales tax once it's implemented would also require a vote with 60 percent approval.

Results of a questionnaire asking people which tax options they would find most acceptable showed 35 percent of participants said they'd prefer a local alcohol tax, 25 percent favored a sales tax and 17 percent would prefer increasing a local cigarette tax. Some people voiced wariness over how the city would use the money from a separate tax, and whether it would actually make a difference.

"There's still an inherent distrust that another source of revenue would somehow be manipulated and ultimately people would end up paying more than they're paying today with a broader mix of taxes," Sullivan said.

The city may hold follow-up dialogues on the issue in the future, Sullivan added.