Sales tax

Assembly Issues

Sales tax

Candidate Responses

Should Juneau’s sales tax exempt food and other necessities?

Merrill Sanford

Merrill Sanford

Candidate for Mayor

I don’t know. I’d have to look at each one of those options individually and see what the effect is and then what it will do to us and how we balance the budget after we do something like that.

Greg Fisk is running for mayor. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

Greg Fisk

Candidate for Mayor

I think the assembly was very concerned about protecting the most vulnerable people in the community and I think that what’s been crafted does that. But there was a lot of testimony about potential negative side effects; that’s going to be law, so I think the new assembly is going to have to monitor what’s happening and if some of those dire predictions begin to come true then we may have to rethink it. I support the current direction, but it’s something we have to continue to monitor.


Loren Jones

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

To make up that revenue would have required that we increase our sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent. There was a vote held in late July in our Finance Committee whether or not we should prepare a ballot for this October election. That didn’t pass.

It is one of the things that I think we’ll look at during the budget cycle this time, whether or not that’s something we want to look at for the next election. I know there was a lot of concern of those who testified (in September) before the assembly about a sales tax, whether it’s regressive, whether it unfairly targets the poor, who pays, who doesn’t. So, sales taxes are always a big issue.

We may also have to look at if, in this legislative session, the state puts on a sales tax. If that were to happen, I don’t know what we would do. Initially, we would have to add it to our sales tax. But whether or not we would want to adjust our sales tax? It’d mean a loss of revenue to us and more revenue for the state.

Dixie Hood (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins)

Dixie Hood

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

I came from California where food is tax-free. And there has been talk on assembly, particularly by Loren Jones, about trying to have food be exempt for everyone in terms of taxes. But that would need to be a whole separate issue from the seniors sale tax exemption, for example. And I do not support increasing sales taxes, which some candidates have recommended. And I think that’s a tax that hits low and moderate-income persons the most because most of our expenditures are for living expenses.

And so I think that’s very important that be attended to and that maybe other options in terms of revenue be looked into, including other taxes and grants that might be available and the (Alaska) Community Foundation which is a source of program support and other sources besides increased sales tax.

Jerry Nankervis

Jerry Nankervis

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

What I’ve realized is it’s a balance. How much are folks willing to pay for how much services? How much that is has to be determined and how much you’re willing to pay has to be determined. And it’s different for everybody.

But I hesitate to say what we need to do is go to a 6 percent sales tax and get it off food not knowing what the state is going to do. There’s so much change out there that is coming right now and so much uncertainty that it’s hard to get out ahead of that when I don’t know what the state is going to do that impact us.

Jason Puckett. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Jason Puckett

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

I don’t think as a whole it should exempt it. Right now, because I talk a lot to Debbie White. And right now, they’re about to vote on the sales tax exemption for seniors so like low-income seniors will still be exempt on food, heating oil, things along those lines. I think they could bring some of that to lower-income families. But again, if you cut that, you have to make up for it somewhere else. So we want to make sure that we’re preserving the important things like school, fire, police, medical. So there’s a lot of things we could move around in the budget to make it a little friendlier for people.

But I think overall the people of Juneau, income-wise, are over and above the national standards. But still, the cost of living is really high. So I think at this point and time we should see what the senior tax cuts do for the tax revenue and then go from there. We don’t want to cut too much all at once.

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