Ketchikan City Council will address a wide range of issues during a four-hour planning session on Saturday

Ketchikan Town Hall on June 11, 2020 (KRBD file photo by Maria Dudzak)

Ketchikan City Council is set to discuss a wide range of issues during a four-hour planning session on Saturday afternoon.

Among the eight topics for the working-style meeting are opioid addiction, a long-term strategic plan for the City, and reform of the City’s sales tax cap.

Currently, only the first $2,000 of most transactions are subject to the 6.5% combined city and borough sales tax. In a note attached to the agenda, Council Member Lallette Kistler proposes increasing this cap to $10,000 and adjusting it for inflation, as well as reducing taxes on groceries and rents of houses and apartments of an undetermined amount. Residential rents are currently subject to a sales tax cap of $1,000, so the maximum tax on rent is $65 per transaction.

Kistler says the current sales tax cap means working-class residents end up paying more of their income in taxes than high earners.

“It doesn’t seem fair to the resident who is barely getting by that they have to pay sales tax on 100% of what they spend, and those who have more get a break,” Kistler writes.

No formal action is proposed for the meeting — Ketchikan Town Clerk Kim Stanker says it’s an opportunity for the council to gather information and plan future initiatives.

Council member Janalee Gage suggested that council address affordable housing and homelessness during the session. She says high rents and low inventory mean seniors, people with disabilities and low-income residents are often unable to stay in their homes or find new places to live.

“What we need to realize is that we need to act fast, and at this point we needed to move 3 years ago to more affordable housing,” Gage writes.

Other areas of focus for the session include the future of the city-owned Downtown Cruise Port Berth 3, the hiring of a tourism manager to guide the growth of the visitors to the city, term limits for the mayor and council, and local non-profit funding.

The meeting is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. Time is set aside for public comments at the start of the meeting. It airs live on local cable channels and broadcast live on the city’s website.

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