Alaskans for Grocery Tax Relief Now - Press Release
March 13, 2015
For Immediate Release:
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has proposed an ordinance that would repeal the voter approved Winter Grocery Tax Exemption.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Blaine Gilman has introduced Ordinance 2015-03, an ordinance amending KPB 5.18.200 to repeal the seasonal exemption from sales taxes of non-prepared food items. Gilman's ordinance would repeal the voter approved 2008 Winter Grocery Tax Exemption. Also introduced is a substitute ordinance: “Amending KPB 5.18.200 to Change the Seasonal Exemption from Sales Taxes of Non-Prepared Food Items to Apply from October 1 to March 31 of Each Year” Introduced by Soldotna Assembly member Dale Bagley). This would be a 6 month exemption versus the current 9 month exemption, also changing the 2008 voter approved initiative. This Tuesday, March 17th, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider these proposed ordinances to end the voter approved Winter Grocery Tax Exemption.
The citizens of the Kenai Peninsula Borough have twice voted by large majority, to support the Grocery Tax Exemption. In 2008 it passed with 60% approval of the voters. In 2011, the Borough Assembly put the issue back before the voters and the 2008 initiative was again approved by the voters with over 69% voter approval.
However, just three weeks before the 2008 election, our Borough Assembly passed Ordinance 2008-28 which authorized the general law cities within the Borough to continue to levy and collect the sales tax anyway, without regard for the will of the voters. Voters were denied the full benefit from the 2008 initiative. This ordinance created the current two-tier sales tax system enabling all cities to continue to tax groceries.
In an effort to uphold the will of the voters, we filed for a referendum to repeal Borough Ordinance 2008-28. The Borough Clerk denied our referendum. We fought the Borough through the Alaska court system and after four years of litigation, the Alaska Supreme Court declared that local citizens have the legal right to repeal this Borough ordinance. Just last fall of 2014, we gathered 1,875 signatures from local residents, which put the issue on the upcoming 2015 October Borough ballot as Proposition One. Gilman's ordinance would effectively nullify Proposition One before the election.
Blaine Gilman’s ordinance would repeal the entire voter approved 2008 Grocery Tax Exemption. If this ordinance, or the substitute ordinance is passed by a vote of just 5 of the Borough Assembly members, then thousands of signatures by local citizens and thousands of votes in support of the Grocery Tax Exemption will be nullified and the Borough will tax your groceries. These ordinances disenfranchise the will of the voters and could end the grocery tax exemption. If passed, the borough's 3% winter grocery tax would be reinstated borough-wide and the general law cities' taxes would continue. The winter grocery tax rate would immediately increase from 3% to 6% in Soldotna and Kenai, 4% to 7% in Seward and Seldovia, 0% to 7.5% in Homer, and 0% to 3% outside of the incorporated cities.
James Price, Central Peninsula, cosponsor for Alaskans for Grocery Tax Relief Now Referendum:
907-776-3481 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Kain, Southern Peninsula, cosponsor for Alaskans for Grocery Tax Relief Now Referendum:
907-399-7900 or email: email@example.com