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Senior sales tax changes dominate borough ballot


Petersburg voters will head to the polls Oct. 7 to weigh in on seven propositions, the majority of which would impose stricter limitations on the senior sales tax exemption currently in place.

The current municipal code exempts individuals 65 years and older from paying Borough sales tax on all items except for alcohol and tobacco, business purchases and purchases made for others not qualifying for the exemption.

Proposition 2, if passed, would establish a sunset date, Dec. 31, 2019, after which no new exemption cards would be issued. Seniors already qualifying for the exemption prior to the sunset date would continue receiving sales tax exemptions, possibly with limitations if other propositions on the ballot are passed.

Proposition 4, for instance, would confine tax-exempt purchases to groceries and heating fuel only.

Currently seniors who are Petersburg residents or Alaska residents qualify for the exemption, though non-residents must pay an annual fee of $25. Proposition 3 would change that and limit the exemption to Borough residents only.

To qualify as a Borough resident, individuals must show proof of a physical address in the Petersburg borough and demonstrate an intent to make a home in the Borough. Proposition 6, requiring one year of residency to qualify for the exemption, would make the residency requirement more concrete.

In addition to the changes to the senior sales-tax exemption, two other tax-related propositions are on the ballot.

Proposition 5, if passed, would raise the sales tax exemption cap to sales over $2000. Currently consumers spending over $1200 are not taxed on goods and services beyond the $1200 sales-tax cap.

Voters will also decide whether or not an excise tax will be levied on tobacco purchases. Proposition 7 would add a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes and a tax equivalent to 45 percent of the wholesale price on other tobacco products.

The sales tax measures, if passed, would help bring in more sales-tax revenue for the Borough.

The final measure, Proposition 1, allows voters to decide whether municipal officers and candidates for elective office in the Borough should be exempt from the state's public official financial disclosure law.

Petersburg officials are currently not exempt from the state requirement, which seeks to discourage public officials from acting on private or business interests in the performance of their public duties, according to the state statute. But the issue comes before the voters to consider again because of the Borough's incorporation in 2012.

Voting will take place on Oct. 7 at the Aquatic Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee voting started Sept. 17 and runs through Oct. 6 at noon. Absentee voting is available at the Petersburg Clerk's office Monday-Friday during normal business hours.


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