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

End the tourism fund restrictions

 

October 17, 2019 | View PDF



With each retail dollar spent in Haines, a penny goes into a special Haines Borough fund for “tourism promotion and economic development” (TPED). As commerce grows and prices rise, year to year, the revenue generated by the TPED 1 percent sales tax also increases. In recent years, this means over $600,000 gets deposited into this borough fund annually. Problem is, a fat chunk of this annual revenue goes unspent, creating a large TPED fund balance. What to do? The borough assembly must eliminate the special purposes of the tax so we can spend it all for normal general fund programs—along with the borough’s tourism department and HEDC.

I’m not writing to put down Haines tourism or investments in economic development. In fact, this area of municipal investment has done well, but no longer is a special fund needed, particularly one that generates way more than can possibly be spent. We’re cutting departmental budgets, dipping into reserves and raising other taxes, right? Today this revenue is needed to support numerous other borough priorities.

The 5.5 percent sales tax is okay with me, but tax dollars shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate in a restricted fund when that fund has a large unspent fund balance and, thus far, no clear purpose. Haines Borough Assembly, please end the TPED fund restrictions so these needed dollars can be appropriated year-to-year for general fund purposes.

Burl Sheldon

 
 

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