The Oct. 3 vote
Tax prop. fails, incumbents win
Skagway voters on Oct. 3 soundly defeated a proposition that would have increased the city sales tax rate from 4 to 5 percent with new exemptions for groceries and household appliances.
The measure garnered just 37 percent approval, failing by a vote of 211 to 127.
Finance Chairman Dan Henry, whose committee brought the measure forward, said voters were not educated enough about the impacts of the proposition. He plans to bring it up again next year.
Bottom line, there would have been a sales tax exemption on food year-round, he said, adding that he also would have proposed a complete sales tax holiday from Oct. 1 to March 31 to balance it out for the year-rounders.
But that information was not on the proposition, just in a few media reports prior to the election. It cant be (on the ballot), he said, adding that only the council can legislate a tax holiday.
In Sitka, its done differently with a 6 percent sales tax in the summer, versus 5 percent in the winter. Henry said his preferred combination of a tax increase with the new exemptions and an annually approved tax holiday would have been better for the locals while bringing in 25 percent more tax revenue for the city to help fund EMTs, police, school and other areas.
Critics of the proposition, including some on the council, cited lack of information on how the extra revenue would be spent, and some citizens said the city should go ahead and exempt food purchases without a tax increase.
The same elected officials will wrestle with tax proposals and other issues in the coming year, as incumbents were returned to their seats on both the Skagway City Council and School Board.
The only race was for two council seats among three candidates, and at one point in the tallying, it was fairly close.
After all the AccuVote ballots were counted on Oct. 3, the tally showed 172 for L.C. Cassidy, 167 for Dave Hunz, and 160 write-in votes. Because Tom Cochran had declared his write-in candidacy, the members of the election board then hand-counted those ballots. They came up with 145 votes for Cochran. The remaining 15 were mostly other names, but a few had written the wrong first name for Cochran, and those could not be counted for him.
With 51 absentees and one questioned ballot remaining to be counted at the Canvass Board meeting Oct. 5, Cochran had an outside chance of catching the other two, but most of those remaining ballots went to the incumbents.
Final tally was 205 for Cassidy, 201 for Hunz, and 166 for Cochran. Unopposed School Board members Darren Belisle and Chris Maggio finished with 277 and 255 votes respectively.
Voter turnout was 37 percent, with 344 total votes counted out of 919 registered voters.
ELECTION AFTERMATH - Skagway poll workers Barb Brodersen and Mildred Meroney retrieve results from the AccuVote machine as Donna Snyder and Gary Brummet destroy unused paper ballots. JB
Official Oct. 3 Election Results
(certified Oct. 5 after counting of absentee and questioned ballots by Canvass Board and approval by City Council)
Two 3-year seats
*L.C. Cassidy 205
*Dave Hunz 201
Write-in Tom Cochran 166
Two 3-year seats
*Darren Belisle 277
*Chris Maggio 255
Sales tax increase from 4 % to 5% with exemption for groceries and household appliances