A one percent sales tax increase to pay for an aquatic wellness center failed during a Jan. 21 assembly meeting.
The proposed increase originally failed on Dec. 17, but was brought back to the table by Assemblyman Jay Burnham, who said a pool is both a need and a want in the community.
Assemblywoman Angela Grieser and Assemblymen Dan Henry and Burnham voted in favor of sending the increase to the people, while Assemblymen Steve Burnham Jr., Tim Cochran and Spencer Morgan voted it down. Mayor Mark Schaefer broke the tie with a no vote. He said while the points for an increase are valid, more research needs to be done.
“It’s not saying no to a pool, it’s just collecting some more thoughts,” he said.
Those against the increase noted the state’s looming budget crisis, and said an additional tax increase from the municipality could hurt small businesses, should the state also increase taxes.
The assembly also faces a large number of upcoming projects, such as a floating dock, senior housing facility and the public safety facility, whose bond still needs to be paid for.
“I really think we need to focus on the needs of the community before we focus on the wants,” Morgan said, adding that he would like to know more definite costs before voting on anything.
In an effort to more clearly define wants and needs, the newly assigned Pool Ad Hoc Committee has voted to bring in USA Pools of Colorado for more accurate estimates and costs.
The third party will host an open discussion in Skagway with the public from April 12 to April 13.
Committee chair Morgan said they are also trying to bring Architects Alaska in on the discussion, so as to help the recreation center expansion and pool coexist.
The consulting firm has worked on over 1,100 pools, Assemblyman Jay Burnham said.
Morgan and Burnham urged the public to attend.