- Associated Press - Friday, September 29, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Mayors across Alaska are pressing the Legislature to solve the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit during next month’s special session.

The Alaska Municipal League and Alaska Conference of Mayors wrote the state Legislature on Wednesday asking for progress, the Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2xNWl0U ).

This is the third consecutive year that the mayors have pleaded to state officials about the deficit.

“We’re not just going to sit anymore,” said Kathie Wasserman of the Municipal League and Conference of Mayors. “We have tried resolutions, we have tried letters, and I think the mayors are frustrated.”

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel said the mayors know that if the Legislature doesn’t act, costs will be passed to their cities and boroughs. They, in return, will have to pass those costs via property taxes and sales taxes to residents.

This has already happened in some areas, particularly school debt reimbursement, Kassel said.

“The costs of inaction are very significant for local municipal governments and we also want them to be aware that when they are pushing down costs to local municipalities, that isn’t really a cost savings or reduction to taxpayers in the state,” Kassel said.

The mayors are asking for a “three-legged stool” to solve the deficit. That includes budget cuts - which have already happened- spending from the earnings of the Permanent Fund and revenue generation.

“We understand that revenue generation is a big word for tax, and we understand that’s going to impact our communities,” Kassel said. “However, the three-legged stool, to stand up, needs a little of all three things.”

On the special session agenda is a payroll tax proposal offered by Gov. Bill Walker. A crime bill is also on the agenda.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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