Assembly sends food tax exemption change to voters

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct errors. The non-prepared food item tax measure approved by the assembly this week included an amendment to put the question to voters on the October municipal ballot.


The Kenai Peninsula Borough will ask voters whether the seasonal sales tax exemption on non-prepared food items should be reduced to six months out of the year. The move would extend the period the 3 percent borough sales tax on groceries is collected by three months — it would be collected from April 1 through Sept. 31.

On Tuesday the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved the ordinance after an amendment was passed to send the measure to voters during the October municipal election.

Assembly member Kelly Wolf requested a reconsideration vote on the ordinance, which is set for the next assembly meeting.

The ordinance will appear under unfinished business on the April 21 meeting’s agenda, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

Soldotna city council member Linda Murphy, who spoke as a resident during the assembly meeting, thanked assembly president Dale Bagley for proposing the ordinance.

Bagley’s ordinance was an alternative to one proposed by assembly member Blaine Gilman, which would have allowed the borough and borough cities to tax food nine months of the year.

Murphy said she would have preferred Gilman’s plan, but six months also would be beneficial.

Soldotna City Manager Mark Dixson said if the ordinance doesn’t pass, Soldotna residents likely would see a property tax increase.

Soldotna resident Daniel Lynch spoke at the meeting. He likened food to oxygen and asked the assembly to focus on other avenues of generating funds.

“If you don’t care about morality, consider democracy,” Lynch said, referring to borough voters’ approval of a nine-month exemption on sales tax for nonprepared food items in 2008.