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In Support of new RFP for Convention & Visitor Services in Sitka

Resolution 2015-03 In Support of the City and Borough of Sitka issuing a new RFP for Convention and Visitor Services in Sitka

June 9, 2015 -- Conventions and visitors have a substantial economic impact to local business and service providers and are beneficial to the municipality’s tax base and subsequent ability to provide invaluable services to its citizenry. Marketing is vital to attracting visitors and conventions to Sitka and the Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau is experienced in and is currently responsible for all aspects of marketing Sitka as a visitor’s destination and meeting place. The work done by the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau has the potential for a large Return on Investment in the form of increased visitors and therefore, increased sales and bed tax dollars.

The City Administrator is recommending that the City & Borough of Sitka absorb the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau functions into the Harrigan Centennial Hall management structure and outsource the marketing and advertising functions. The direction of the City and Borough of Sitka is determined by the Sitka Assembly, which changes from year to year. The level of importance for marketing Sitka as a visitor destination should not change from year to year! Additionally, the convention and visitors services are not an essential service and are not part of the City and Borough of Sitka’s Compressive Plan. Convention and Visitor’s services would be better served outside of the City and Borough of Sitka.

The Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce is urging the City and Borough of Sitka to release a second RFP with clearer guidelines and a more generous timeline.

Opposition To Sales Tax Cap Increase Effective Date Sitka Tax Cap Increase

Resolution 2015-02 In Opposition To Raising Sales Tax Cap Without Adequate Notice To Businesses

May 20, 2015 -- The Sitka Chamber recognizes the need to increase revenue flows to the City and Borough of Sitka to cover budget deficits, especially with the rapid decline in State and Federal funding and Sitka’s still struggling economy. While we are not generally against the idea of increasing the sales tax cap, we are concerned about the many businesses that this will affect. 

The effective date of July 1stis much too soon for businesses to plan for. Many have already advertised prices, as well as scheduled and collected payments for their 2015 season, under the current tax structure. The additional costs associated with contacting and collecting from clients that have already paid, or the additional costs out of pocket, would create an undue hardship for businesses. 

This Sitka Chamber urges the City and Borough of Sitka to wait until October 2015 to implement this change so that businesses can give ample notice to clients.

Support for Meaningful Education FundingEducation Just Ahead

2015-01 In Support of Meaningful Education Funding Increases

March 6, 2015 -- The Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce mission is to promote, support and facilitate commerce and economic growth in our community and we recognize the significant return on investment that a quality education provides. Healthy local schools encourage the in-migration of families, increasing our immediate and future labor supply as well as bolstering our local economy. On the flip side, inadequate funding has a negative impact on the ability for the Sitka School District to continue valuable programs for our students, programs that work to keep children in school and prepare them for college or career readiness.

Access to quality education has been shown to raise incomes and increase productivity, while failures in educating our workforce are associated with higher levels of crime and welfare dependency. Public funds that might have been used for education, are instead spent on crime control, drug treatment and welfare programs. The overall skill level of our local labor force is one of the key drivers pushing local job and wage growth. Skilled workers and a quality labor force give businesses incentive to operate and grow in Sitka, giving us a competitive edge that encourages economic growth and prosperity.

Substantial cuts need to be made in the State Budget this legislative session,however, education needs to remain a top priority. If the State of Alaska will take a leading role in education, keeping a long term perspective and fully supporting our public education system, we will all benefit greatly.