Haines voters will be able to decide whether or not to increase the tax for short-term rentals including hotels and AirBnBs if the assembly passes a new proposal.

The proposal would bump up the daily dollar amount the borough charges for nightly rentals from 4% to 6% per, on top of the 5.5% sales tax.

Assemblymember Debra Schnabel said the bill would raise money for the borough without stressing residents themselves.

“The tax would raise revenue for the community by people who are not of the community,” Schnabel said. “It’s kind of a non-threatening tax for residents.”

Based on numbers from 2022, the tax would generate a few tens of thousands of dollars.

The ordinance faces skepticism from some hotel and short-term rental owners who said the proposal was a surprise.

“I wanted to make you aware that the businesses — it’s a pretty small segment — did not know this was happening and you’re proposing to increase a tax that we’re already being taxed on,” said Leslie Ross, the owner of the Inn at Haines, “I look forward to hearing why, and where this money will be going.”

Raising the tax rate would move Haines toward the amounts that other comparable communities in Alaska are paying, Schnabel said.

“There are only four communities in the state of Alaska that are still sitting on four percent,” said Schnabel. “Anchorage is at 12 percent.”

Those numbers are complicated by differing sales tax rates. Gustavus, for example, has a four percent bed tax rate and a three percent sales tax. Anchorage, has a 12 percent sales tax and no sales tax.

Under the proposal, all revenue would go directly to the borough’s general fund, and could be used for any purpose, including economic development and tourism. The proposal would exclude Excursion Inlet, which Schnabel said currently accounts for a majority of Haines’ rental income.

Schnabel’s proposal was read for the first time on Monday.