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No to Taxing Alcohol in Restaurants

City of Fairbanks

Meeting last night (Monday) the Fairbanks City Council voted down an ordinance that would have increased the tax on alcoholic beverage sales from the current 5 percent, to 6 percent. The council heard from numerous city restaurant and bar owners opposed to the hike, saying it is not the right time to raise taxes on because their industry, which has been affected by the pandemic. Kurt Newman with K&L Distributors in Fairbanks said many sellers are significantly down.  

…with other citizens.”

The one percent tax increase was estimated to bring in an additional $467,000, but several commenters pointed out that was based on the pre-pandemic level of business. The council recently adopted a gasoline excise tax, bringing the city up to its tax revenue cap. Council Member Jerry Cleworth, emphasized that means any additional revenue from an alcohol tax hike would reduce property taxes.

…our revenues at all.” 

The council voted down the proposed alcohol tax increase 5 to 1, with ordinance sponsor Shoshana Kun the only yes vote. Kun said the tax hike originated from conversations with community members.

”…and it’s significant.”

Kun noted it’s been 35 years since the alcohol tax was raised.

Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.