HEALY — The Denali Borough found a surprising new source of revenue in a challenging Covid-19 budget year — Denali National Park. It turns out the borough can tax alcohol sales and overnight accommodations inside the national park.
“The whole question came up when we implemented the new alcohol tax,” Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said. That tax began Jan. 1, 2001. “There was a 5% tax on a six-pack on one side of the river but not on the other side.”
He wondered if that was really fair and decided to research the question more thoroughly. Walker had just always assumed that taxes could not be collected within federal property. But his research showed that other national parks do collect some version of sales taxes in other parts of the country. He asked the borough lawyer to investigate and got a surprising response that was quick and definitive.
“It’s actually in the Statehood Act,” he said. “And it’s specific to Mount McKinley National Park. Any taxes of the state or its political subdivisions would be due within Mount McKinley National Park,” according to the borough attorney’s research.
Walker shared the new information with management at Denali National Park, and they agreed that it was clearly spelled out.
The park will begin collecting a 5% sales tax on the sale of alcohol in the park beginning July 1. Collecting the 7.5% tax on overnight accommodations at the park won’t happen until next year. Those accommodations are campgrounds and most of them have already been sold this season, the mayor said.
“Federal property is exempt in other regards,” the mayor said. “But the exempt status does not extend to sales tax.”
No estimate is available of how much the borough will gain financially from the discovery.
The Denali Borough now claims a 56% vaccination rate. It led the way among communities along the railbelt in past months but Anchorage has now caught up and the two areas are tied.
According to the Denali Borough Mayor, the next goal, identified by the Department of Health and Social Services, is to reach 78% vaccination success by the end of the month.
Horizon Medical is now collaborating with the Denali Borough, taking over testing and operating vaccination clinics.
A vaccination clinic from 9:30 a.m to 1 p.m. today at the Tri-Valley Community Center gives teens ages 12-15 their first opportunity to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Adults can also get vaccinated, and they have the choice of the Pfizer, Modern or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Another clinic will be held, same place and time, on May 20.
More information and online registration for a vaccination slot is available at www.horizonmedicalak.com
Free testing continues in Healy on Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the Covid trailer in the Tri-Valley Community Center parking lot. Testing also takes place Tuesdays and Thursday 9-11 a.m. Rapid tests are available 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Canyon Clinic opens May 28, and testing is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Testing also is available in the Anderson School parking lot on Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Denali National Park 10-11 a.m. on Mondays.
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