City puts tax increase to October vote, raises fees
Local voters will have a chance to cast a yea or nay vote at the next municipal election concerning a summer sales tax increase. The City of Nome has been exploring additional revenue sources; the voters will decide if they want to go down the road to sales tax increase as a partial solution.
The Nome Common Council voted unanimously July 11 to ask voters whether sales tax should increase from five cents to seven cents on the dollar during the months of May, June, July, August, September and October. The ballot proposition will appear on the ballot at the Oct. 4 Municipal Election.
The council has tossed the seasonal sales tax idea around over the years, aiming for wallets of tourists and other visitors during the warmer months to help pay for services. The panel took action on the question at the last regular council meeting stemming from dwindling resources coming out of the state’s fiscal crisis and the necessity to lean down City of Nome’s spending over the next fiscal year and as a measure to assure fiscal health of the City of Nome.
According to figures supplied by Julie Liew, Nome’s finance director, the city has collected $5,151,154 annually in sales tax on average over the five years 2011 through 2015.
If voters were to approve the increase during the five busiest months from five percent to seven percent, the two percent increase might potentially raise an additional $600,000 in revenue based on the five-year average, according to Liew’s report to the council.
While sales tax has been five percent, there have been selective reductions on some items. From the end of 2005 until lifted in 2015, there was a one-percent reduction of sales tax on water, sewer, garbage, electric and landfill. The erasing of the one-percent exemption sales tax exemption produced an increase of $112,985 in sales tax collected on utilities in 2015 compared to the amount collected on utilities in 2014. Sales tax on groceries was lifted for a third to half a year during FY 2007, FY 2008 and FY2009.
In the three years FY 2012 and FY 2015, sales tax collection jumped. Higher oil prices, construction projects—hospital, Richard Foster Building, Port of Nome, state Dept. of Transportation and Nome Joint Utility System projects—may have brought in the revenue increase, according to Liew.
On July 15, the city’s administration put out a 22-page, detailed schedule of fees for use and rental of 18 facilities, plus Port of Nome, that shows additional increases on some items and some new fees. Except for “freebie” Saturdays, the landfill fee at the Monofil and the Beam Road facility will be $25 for a covered pickup truck load and $35 for an uncovered pickup. Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum will have an admission fee of $7 for adults, $6 for youth and seniors, or annual memberships of $40 for individuals, $70 for couples and $90 for families. A new campground at Mile 1.1 Greg Kruschek Avenue will cost $20 per day with maximum stay of six days. The list is available online at the city’s web site and at Nome City Hall.