Drinking costs the public money

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm a social drinker and a regular patron of Jack Tripp's downtown Viking Lounge and I have no problem with paying an increased local liquor tax.

Responsible drinkers understand that drinking costs the public money, for police and ambulance and social workers and the myriad other costs government must pay when alcohol is used to excess.

The real injustice is that the Alaska Legislature in the 1980s prohibited municipalities from placing taxes on liquor separate from a general sales tax.

Juneau and a handful of other cities in Alaska were far-sighted enough to adopt local liquor taxes before the alcohol industry prevailed on the Legislature to block other communities from following suit. Towns like Juneau that already had such taxes were grandfathered in.

It's time that Alaska cities, perhaps through the Alaska Municipal League, press the Legislature to get rid of this special favor to the liquor industry, which effectively handcuffs local leaders from tapping into an important source of funds.

Alaska cities and towns that are already financially strapped could use local liquor taxes like Juneau's to pay for their police and ambulance services.

Tom Morphet


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