"Where The Land Ends And The Sea Begins"
During the past twenty four hours, I have encountered two situations that have made me reconsider my thought process. While working on my 2008 Federal income taxes, I called the Finance Office of the City of Homer to verify the current sales tax rate within the city limits. I posed my question to a very polite lady on the phone. She quickly answered my question that the current rate was 7.5%. This caught me by surprise as I thought it was a few cents less than that. I repeated her answer and she replied, "yes, we have really high taxes". I had to agree with her. The last year I was in business in Homer which was three years ago the rate structure was 5%.
Later in the evening, I was enjoying a social evening of a Texas Hold'em Poker when a local but faithful spectator stopped by the pub to watch the poker tables. During a break, he informed me that the Homer City Council had just adopted a new ordinance. I could not believe what he had to tell me. Ordinance 90-01 "Green Fee For Disposable Shopping Bags", hence forth when shopping in Homer, Alaska if you have your purchases placed in a disposable bag, paper or plastic, you will be charged a "Green Fee" of .25 cents per bag. The Ordinance even applies if you take in your own plastic or paper bag, you are still charged the same amount. The "seller" or business person must record the charge on your sales receipt. Quarterly the business person must file with the Finance Department and remit the "Green Fee" minus 10% of the fees collected for their administrative cost in collecting the "Green Fee". Funds collected from this "Green Fee" will be split equally between two projects. I have no problem with 50% of the funds derived being given to the Homer Foundation to pay operating costs of nonprofit organizations in Homer. However, the remaining 50% will be used to finance projects to implement the City of Homer Climate Action Plan (huh?). So, if you plan on visiting Homer in the future, be prepared to pay a 7.5% Sales Tax plus a quarter for each bag that is used to hold those items that you purchased to support the economy of Homer.
I hate to abandon some good friends and business associates in Homer, but I have to take the actions of the City of Homer into consideration. The recent history of Homer is to fresh in my memory. The outcry of the community when the new harbor lights were installed in the Homer boat harbor to improve safety and security. The passage of the "Nuclear Free Zone" ordinance that was enacted by the city in the 1980's. The clamor and uproar of the community when McDonald's wanted to open a franchise. With time and concessions of the franchise, it was opened in the 1980's and has provided a steady employment benefit to the young people of Homer. We saw this uproar occur again in very recent years when Fred Meyers wanted to move to Homer and open a new store. Being faced with requirements that no other business had ever faced, they eventually gave up and took their jobs and services elsewhere. The list is endless of a variety of things that have occurred in Homer in recent years, none of them for the betterment of the community. It is a shame that the basic elements of a community has to change. The Homer that I knew is not the Homer of today and that is a shame.
I wish them well with their higher taxes and "Green Fees" to do a Climate Action Plan. Perhaps, part of Climate Action Plan can include a study of the Bridge Creek Drainage area. The increased usage of water which is being diverted to the City of Homer and the adverse affect it is having on the Anchor River.
Late Posting: 1/20/2009 10:45 a,m,) According to the City Clerks office, this ordinance had it's final reading and accepted by the council, however it will not be voted on for adoption until April. As best I can interpret, you are not charged for the bags that you bring in, however, you may still be charged a .25 cent green fee in addition to the sales price for each disposable shopping bag. We will wait to see what happens in April and the commencement of the "visitor" season.