Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Campbell targets tax on autos


A Haines Borough Assembly member is pushing to repeal the municipality’s motor vehicle registration tax. Established in October 2013, the tax was launched to help clean up junked and abandoned vehicles around the borough.

Assembly member George Campbell said the program has been on the books for more than two years and has yet to benefit the municipality.

“We’ve had this for two years now and life has gone on just as it was before basically, so what’s the point? Do people really want to pay extra for their automobiles?” Campbell asked.

According to chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart, the borough has received about $22,100 so far from the $22 biennial tax, which is tacked on when residents register their vehicles in the Haines Borough.

That money will be used to “repay” the general fund for the previous $25,000 purchase of a flatbed truck for the vehicle impoundment program.

“We’re talking about something that was installed a couple of managers ago already. It’s a scenario where it was brought in by a different administration and it has never been followed through on. And really, it’s a stupid thing,” Campbell said.

Interim manager Brad Ryan said there are several factors that have kept the vehicle impoundment program from moving forward, including that former police chief Bill Musser was uncomfortable impounding vehicles.

When interim chief Robert Griffiths arrived after Musser’s resignation, the ball started rolling again, and fencing for an impound lot went up at the borough’s wastewater treatment plant this fall.

There are several cars in the lot right now, but there is no plan for getting rid of them, Ryan said.

Ryan said the next step is getting an estimate on how much it would cost to prep vehicles for removal – removing toxic chemicals, for example – and weighing that against the revenue coming in.

Campbell said he would rather scrap the tax and let private industry take care of the abandoned car issue.

“If (residents) want to pay the $11 a year or whatever it is, great. But frankly, we’re taxing ourselves, why? Because we want to take more on and we are super responsible and our police officers have lots of time to deal with an impound yard? We’re far better off letting existing businesses do it,” he said.

The repeal item will be on the Jan. 26 assembly agenda.


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