In a surprising move, Brown Jug’s parent company, Alcanna, sent a letter to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz supporting the proposed alcohol tax. Anchorage Assembly members were also sent a copy of the letter. Berkowitz proposed the 5% tax in November to deal with issues caused by chronic alcoholism. The tax is expected to raise between $11 to $15 million a year.
Assemblymembers Dick Traini, Eric Croft, and Felix Rivera sponsored the tax proposal. The Anchorage Assembly will hold a vote on the proposal at next Tuesday’s meeting. It needs eight votes to pass (there are 11 Assembly members). If it passes it will go on the April ballot. It would require a simple majority of Anchorage residents for it to pass.
In the letter, dated November 30, 2018, Alcanna cites corporate responsibility for supporting the tax:
As Alaska’s largest alcohol retailer, Brown Jug is strongly supportive of efforts to address the chronic inebriate and homelessness issues facing Anchorage. Brown Jug believes that ALL package store operators should be equally responsible and operate under the same standards we do. We strongly support the 5% alcohol tax proposed by your administration on the sale of retail alcohol products with those proceeds going directly to support services such as homelessness camp responses and clean-up; cold-weather shelters and potentially fund treatment and rehabilitation supports and facilities.
The full letter can be seen here:
This likely won’t please the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR), smaller liquor stores that don’t have the competitive advantage Brown Jug has, and restaurants that serve alcohol. There are currently ongoing efforts to fight the proposed tax. If it gets the eight votes at the Assembly meeting on Tuesday, look forward to a lively and very public campaign for the April municipal election.