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 Ed. Note: The move was on in 1997 to try and impose a sales tax on Fairbanks once again.
Read one viewpoint on the strategy behind this movement:

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Remember Bar Hours? Get Ready for Sales Tax

 The ADVANCE ALASKA Network 1997 KEVIN McGEHEE December 5, 1997

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Here they come again, their sights zeroed in on your wallets. In response to the fiscal mess created by the feckless city administration in Fairbanks, the local pack of money jackals are beating the drums for a city sales tax: "nothing huge, you understand -- just 2 or 3 percent."

At first grimace, a Fairbanks city sales tax seems no big deal, especially since there are so many shopping opportunities around (but not quite in) the Fairbanks city limits. But there lies the rub -- and I refuse to believe the proponents of a modest city sales tax are so nave as to be unaware of it, and of how a similar strategy was used just last year to extend city laws controlling bar hours to cover the entire borough.

In a conversation last summer with someone who favors a sales tax in the borough, I suggested that the North Pole city sales tax might be instructive as to how much real revenue would be raised -- and the reply was that North Pole would not be instructive at all, since so many people can so easily avoid shopping there by going to Fairbanks. Well, with that big Fred Meyer store at College and University serving as a beacon, what's to stop Fairbanks' residents from likewise avoiding a Fairbanks city sales tax?

The borough, that’s what.

Let the city adopt a sales tax, let it sit for a while, let people adapt their shopping habits, then will come the outcry: "Outlying stores are siphoning off the city's rightful revenues!!!" Not to mention complaints from city business owners (the vast majority of whom are small business owners without the resources to simply move beyond the reach of the tax), who will be watching as their patronage declines.

The editorial board at the News-Miner will, of course, suggest modestly that none of this would be a problem if Fairbanks were just like Anchorage, with a unified municipal government. <yawn>

When that fails to gain support (thank heaven for small favors), Mayor Hove and his friends will ride in and save the day, seeking to remove the incentive to avoid the city's sales tax by proposing a non-areawide borough sales tax. How reasonable! How progressive!

How predictable.

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The views expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s), and do not reflect those of any person or group with whom the author(s) may be affiliated, unless explicitly labeled as doing so.

 The ADVANCE ALASKA Network 1997 KEVIN McGEHEE North Pole, Alaska
Permission granted to anyone wishing to forward, redistribute, or broadcast this article for NON-PROFIT purposes. Profit-making publications must have express consent to reprint any AdvAK materials. Thank you.

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