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11/2/2019
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As the community receives fewer state dollars, an opportunity like the one offered by the Alaska Municipal League is timely.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Legislature have been trying to eliminate a state budget deficit that at the start of his term in late 2018 came to $1.6 billion.

Dunleavy cut, and his cuts are affecting most Alaskans, businesses, state agencies and local governments. At the same time, he promised a massive Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payout that included making up for past payments shorted by his predecessor. Shorted in terms of what the dispersement formula defines.

The cuts are materializing; the massive dividend did not.

The result is financial in most communities around the state.

In Ketchikan, an AML effort might aid in mitigating the effect.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will talk Monday about joining a commission being created by the Alaska Municipal League for the purpose of collecting sales tax on online purchases.

Borough Attorney Glenn Brown recently told the Assembly that the borough might collect between $400,000 and $1.2 million a year through the Alaska Remote Sellers Sales Tax Commission.

If the borough signs onto the agreement for developing the commission with the AML, then it would be involved in the commission’s incorporation and the writing of the bylaws. It would have the input of a founding member.

The upfront cost is nothing, although the commission would collect a percentage of the borough’s annual sales tax revenue collected by the commission to cover expenses.

Joining the AML commission would give Ketchikan the strength of numbers, as its pursues the new taxes. Any potential legal challenge would be met by an army of communities.

On the face of it, the commission appears to be a chance that shouldn’t be allowed to pass by. Dollars coming in at this juncture in local and state finances is a gift.

But the Assembly will look behind the facade Monday night. It is hoped it will see a golden opportunity.