Juneau's senior sales tax break survives - for now

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2001

The Juneau Assembly's Finance Committee won't be discussing changes to the city's senior sales tax exemption this budget cycle.

Committee Chairwoman Cathy Munoz said the issue has been tabled, in part because the city's financial situation looks good.

"There are still concerns about the impacts of sales tax exemptions in general and we'll continually be looking at ways to cut costs and generate more revenue. But in light of the current situation with the budget, it didn't appear now was the best time to do that," she said.

Munoz said community opposition also contributed to the decision.

The Juneau Commission on Aging earlier this month unanimously passed a resolution urging the city to continue with the exemption in its current form, commission member Bob Thibodeau said. The commission was planning public meetings to organize support for the exemption, he said.

"As seniors, we're on a fixed income," he said, adding that he was pleased with the Assembly's decision. "In an effort to keep seniors in Juneau, the exemption is a step in the right direction."

The exemption is available to any Alaska resident 65 or older and that person's spouse. The exemption covers sales tax on goods, services and rentals, with the exception of alcoholic beverages.

The Finance Committee on Wednesday also listened to a presentation from Capital City Fire and Rescue about adding three firefighter medics to its force at a total cost of $203,000. According to Fire Chief Mike Doyle, the positions would allow the department to provide the same level of service to downtown Juneau and Douglas it provides in the Mendenhall Valley. Assembly members also discussed software cost increases, a budget shortfall in the commercial passenger vehicle program and the possibility of adding a transportation planner to the city's staff.

No action was taken on either item.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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