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Kenai assembly fails to override bed-tax veto

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KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Residents in the Kenai Peninsula Borough will not get the chance to vote on a bed tax to promote tourism after the assembly failed to override the mayor's veto.

The assembly attempted an override vote Tuesday, but fell two votes short, the Peninsula Clarion reported (http://is.gd/cp32ct).

The assembly in late July voted to send the measure to voters, but Mayor Mike Navarre nixed it Monday.

Navarre said he heard lots of complaints from people in Homer, who didn't favor a tax being thrust upon them by other people in the large borough.

Navarre says it's probably better for the assembly to let cities institute their own bed tax, if voters allow them. "I think the city governments ought to make the determinations about how they're going to tax their residents on their own," he said.

"The mayor is real popular, and this has to pass the voters. By him weighing in to veto this thing just (swayed) 1,100-bazillion votes the other direction, and so I think it's time to make peace and regroup. So I'm not going to vote in favor of overriding the veto," said assembly member Brent Johnson, who in July voted to send the measure to the ballot.

Another assembly member, Mako Haggerty, opposed the tax from the beginning because it would have been specifically targeted to promote tourism when he's rather see any funds collected go to the general fund.

Had it been approved, it would have raised about $1.6 million for the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, which already receives about $300,000 annually from the borough for operations.

Assembly member Bill Smith voted to override the measure, and he was the sponsor of the ordinance.

He said he brought the idea forward after assembly members previously asked the tourism council to find another source of funding or cut its budget.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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