Fairbanks voters postpone tax cuts

Proposal gives city more time to find revenue alternatives

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks voters have approved a delay in implementing a property tax reduction they passed last fall.

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The outcome of a by-mail ballot proposal will give city officials breathing room as they respond to complaints of high property tax bills.

The proposal passed 57 percent to 43 percent, or 2,291 to 1,724, in the final tally announced Tuesday.

The vote eases a budget shortfall that had threatened to cut basic public services and funding for nonprofits. It also ends six months of hurried reaction to an October election that had slashed the tax rate and limited the city's ability to respond with a sales tax.

The City Council has since considered at least five alternative tax options, meant to replace the lost property tax revenue.

Mayor Steve Thompson, city chief of staff Pat Cole and other officials considered enforcing an employment tax, hiking fees on residential trash collection and other largely unpopular options through the winter.

Tuesday's vote will allow the City Council to set property tax rates as high as 6.5 mills this year and next. The tax rate would fall dramatically in 2009 unless another tax plan is approved.

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