Mark Whitman has an annual tradition on May 18, the day a prominent Juneau man died. He goes down to Evergreen Cemetery, finds a specific grave marker, and smokes a cigar. He’ s remembering how the generosity of a person known as China Joe had such a huge impact over our early city.
The city’s finance department concluded last year that cruise ships are legally liable to collect local sales tax and could raise as much as $100,000 annually. But an ordinance considered by the Juneau Assembly on March 6 would exempt onboard transactions as a friendly gesture to the industry.
The Juneau Assembly heard more than 90 minutes of testimony from dozens of residents including merchants, social workers and homeless people themselves who all agreed on one thing: Juneau has a serious homeless problem. But speakers had radically different viewpoints.
The Juneau mayor’s tax initiative will certainly be welcomed by the cruise line industry which says its passengers pay nearly $8 million in sales tax while onshore in Juneau but has historically not paid sales tax for goods and services sold aboard its vessels.