By Chris Story
The long winters with less than four hours of daylight are a small price to pay for the bounty that Alaska offers her faithful residents during the long rich days of summer.
Where else on earth can you fish for world class salmon, halibut, spot whales and work in your garden between 5 p.m. and midnight? Who wouldn’t want to come and taste the delights of Alaska, regardless of the price to get here, eat here, play here or stay here?
Speaking of winter, this past November, I came into a little money. As a surprise to my wife Tiffanie, I sold something for a lump sum of cash. It was mine to sell, and I knew it would garner me enough cash to take the two of us to Hawaii. When or for how long I didn’t know, but I knew we’d get to that tropical paradise one way or another.
With my newly raised capital in hand, off to the travel agent I went. With very little time to plan or plot, I told Shelly that I wanted to go to Maui, spend as much time as I could with X amount of dollars. “That’s all I’ve got, we have to make that amount work,” I said.
She did it, within a day there before me on the computer screen were several options; all including accommodations and times of arrival / departure. I looked at them all, and it boiled down to the lowest common denominator; where could I get the longest stay for my buck.
I didn’t look closely at the bed tax or for that matter even if they had one. I simply made my choice on the amount of money I had available to me to spend on this trip, and what I could get for my money.
That said, if I were in a professional capacity booking for a large group, you better believe I’d have looked at the details of the billing to determine where the taxes were higher and used that as a bargaining chip, or a piece of the puzzle as to where I’d hold my event, or not, for that matter.
Back to my story; the Story Family Trip to Hawaii. Yes, we did stay for six glorious nights and seven days in paradise. In mid-January with our toes in the warm water and lying out on the white sand beaches, the winter back in Alaska was a million miles away.
The fact of the matter is, we had only a limited amount of money to spend on accommodations, travel and stuff to do while on the island. If you recall back to your last vacation, you might understand exactly what I mean.
If you decide to pass the 3 percent bed tax on the Kenai Peninsula; you are going to force our guests and travelers to make a tough choice. Stay one day less, eat two meals less, purchase one less sight-seeing trip or take home a few fewer gifts to friends and family.
Some are projecting a net windfall of $1.8 million to the KPB coffers. Ostensibly this started out as a funding mechanism to support the KPTMC (Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council), whose annual contribution from the KPB is $300,000.
If there is a shortfall of $300,000 for marketing the Peninsula, then the KPB Assembly and Borough Mayor Navarre have got to find ways to cut the existing budget to accommodate this expense; if there is literally no fat whatsoever to cut, then the KPTMC will have to rely on their own ingenuity and members to fund their operations.
It really boils down to a matter of who can spend your money more wisely: the Government or You?
If you pass this bed tax, you can rest assured that you’re handing over nearly $2,000,000 to the government; those are dollars that will not be in your tills to get you through the long dark of winter. As you consider how you will vote, please remember that our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and YOU know best how to spend your money. Bed tax is beyond what is in the best interest of our local economy on the Kenai Peninsula.
Vote NO on a Bed Tax
Chris Story is a lifelong Alaskan, and broker and owner of Story Real Estate. He is also host of “Alaska Matters Radio,” heard Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on KPEN.
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