Fiscal considerations top Municipal League agenda

Group plans to oppose state sales tax and to ask for a resumption of state aid to localities

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004

FAIRBANKS - About 350 elected and administrative officials from across Alaska will examine their positions on fiscal matters when the annual conference of the Alaska Municipal League gets underway today.

AML director Kevin Ritchie said the league's most significant policy stands will revolve around money, from opposing a state sales tax to asking for a resumption of state aid to localities, which Gov. Frank Murkowski vetoed last year.

"The big issues are going to be all fiscal," Ritchie said. "Some type of sharing revenues with communities is really key this year."

The league's membership includes 140 Alaska cities, boroughs and municipalities. Those attending the conference will spend today through Friday listening to speakers, attending workshops and approving resolutions through which the AML will articulate its positions to the Legislature and the people of Alaska over the next year.

"It's kind of our democratic process," Ritchie said. "We work to come to policy consensus on issues that are of common importance to communities across the state."

Most of the mulling over resolutions and policies will take place on Thursday. On Friday, the group plans to vote on a new board of directors for the group and vote on its resolutions.

The AML has been among the groups advocating for a long-term fiscal plan to make the state less reliant upon unpredictable oil revenue.

Last year, the Alaska Conference of Mayors, which is associated with the AML, leveled a vote of "no confidence" in the Legislature for its continued inability to put such a plan together. Ritchie said he doesn't expect to see that drastic step repeated.

"I haven't talked to anybody who wants to do that again in particular," he said. "I think that was sort of a one-time thing."

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