Online sales tax gets green light, candidate residency requirement increased

Feb 26, 2020


The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly met Tuesday night for a five-hour marathon meeting in Soldotna. 

A sales tax ordinance was approved by unanimous consent, which makes the borough one of 23 communities in the state that are organizing to collect sales taxes from online purchases. It has been quite an undertaking, said assembly President Kelly Cooper.

“I just have to take a minute to thank our finance director for the, I don’t know how many months that this commission has been working on this. It’s been extremely complex,” Cooper said.

The assembly postponed action on an ordinance brought by the mayor, to allow for gated communities in the borough.

Assembly members voiced no objections to the development of new, gated communities. The point of contention is in allowing borough residents to convert existing subdivisions into gated communities. 

In his Lands Committee report, Assemblyman Brent Johnson said that they’ve received objections to the ordinance.

“We have letters of objection from cities,” Johnson said. “In addition, there is, I think, 22 letters of objections from folks in Homer who are objecting to a possible loss of walking space and a number of them just in general are opposed to gated communities.”

The measure was postponed until the March 17 meeting.

The assembly also unanimously passed an ordinance changing the residency requirement for elected officials. The ordinance does two things. It requires candidates to have lived in their district for one year to be eligible to run for office or serve on an area board, and it creates a review process for candidates who have their residency questioned. Johnson was a co-sponsor of the measure.

“In existing code, there is no vehicle or no apparatus for somebody to challenge a person’s residency, a candidate’s residency, and so it’s a very clumsy thing to handle without that,” Johnson said.

Mike Munger, executive director of Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Incorporated, gave a presentation about the Department of Environmental Conservation proposing to change state laws regulating oil spills. 

Munger said that DEC Commissioner Jason Brune informed CIRCAC that he believes up to 40 percent of the laws regulating oil spill response are unnecessary, but DEC has not identified any specific regulations slated for elimination.

“These regulations on the books right now have been reviewed no less than nine times. Significant milestones nine different times,” Munger said. “… I’ve never seen, in my 30 years of experience, anything to come out of the state of Alaska or specifically the DEC where you have a commissioner saying, ‘Yeah, we want to eliminate a significant number of regulations but we won’t tell you what they are.’”

The assembly passed a resolution that supports the current state laws regulating oil and gas. The DEC is accepting public comment on the matter through March 16.

The assembly’s next meeting is 6 p.m. March 17 at the Borough Building in Soldotna.