Kenai borough mayor vetoes vote on bed tax


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KENAI (AP) — Voters in the Kenai Peninsula Borough won’t have the chance to decide whether to implement a 3-percent tax on motel beds in the borough.

On Aug. 4 Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre vetoed the measure from going to the ballot.

“I don’t really like dedicated taxes personally,” he told the Peninsula Clarion

Plus, Navarre said, he has heard complaints from Homer residents that they would be stuck with the tax decided by others in the borough.

The tax was estimated to bring in $1.6 million annually to promote tourism marketing of the peninsula. That would be on top of the $300,000 the borough already gives to the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council.

Navarre argued that if the council wants additional money from the borough, it can make a case for it.

“Raising $1.6 million in order to fund tourism marketing non-area-wide, it’s just not a very efficient way of raising revenues,” he said.

A better approach, Navarre said in a memo to the assembly members, would be for them to allow cities to implement a bed tax by voter approval. A tax on all tourism businesses might be even more agreeable, but he wasn’t sure if laws would allow that, he added.

“The bottom line is if we want to fund (tourism promotion), we have the capability of funding it. We just have to do it in our budget,” he told the newspaper. “We just have to compete with other priorities in the budget.

“Once you start down dedicated taxes, it starts getting pretty confused pretty fast.”

The borough assembly voted 5-4 on July 22 to send the question to voters.

The assembly could consider an override vote by adding it to the agenda for Tuesday’s assembly meeting. It could also schedule a special meeting before the clerk’s deadline for adding issues to the ballot.

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