PALMER — The Palmer City Council passed two unique agenda items on Tuesday dealing with the local economy and effects of online marketplace in Palmer.
The council discussed and passed Action Memoranda 19-084, providing a $1,500 grant to the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce for Small Business Saturday. Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as an alternative to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday has proved to be beneficial for the brick and mortar shops in the city of Palmer. Deputy Mayor Linda Combs noted that prior to the promotion of Small Business Saturday, most shop owners had their highest dollar days on the Saturday of Colony Christmas. Councilwoman Julie Berberich owns Backcountry Bike and Ski with her husband and said that last year, Small Business Saturday was the highest day for retail sales.
“Last year through that program we were able to get a tangible amount of money in Palmer that was spent at that time,” Councilwoman Sabrena Combs said. “Through that program we were able to calculate $244,000 spent in Palmer and so supporting this day is important and it kicks off something even greater for Palmer that we can come up with those tangible numbers and see how much money is being spent in Palmer during that time.”
The $244,000 was calculated between Small Business Saturday through December, not the total for one day of sales. The $1,500 council community grant passed unanimously. The Council discussed two agenda items concerning the Alaska Municipal League annual conference which begins later this month. Sabrena Combs serves as the District Representative on the Alaska Municipal League Board, and the council passed Resolution 19-085 to nominate Councilman Richard Best for a Director At Large one-year term. Best, who said he had served on the AML board previously, was nominated by Deputy Mayor Combs and seconded by Berberich. Additionally, the council discussed Resolution 19-020 authorizing the city of Palmer to join the remote seller sales tax commission.
City Manager Nathan Wallace gave a staff report on the complex sales tax collection commission by AML. Wallace detailed that he believed the $5,000 spent by the council in February was well spent, and that the remote seller sales tax code is not a new tax.
“Next step is requires formation of commission so that it can move forward with pursuing a sales tax revenue software a consultant to work that to develop a board to further the rules of this commission and the following step after that is to either adopt or not the revised sales tax code, which right now we would still keep our exceptions, keep our exemptions and it would go onto this software package and this commission would be responsible for collecting our remote sales tax and then provide us with our funds,” Wallace said. “If we join later we don’t really have a say in how the commission further refines and forms its rules.”
Wallace said the cost of the commission currently stands at one percent of what online sales taxes would be collected, not gross sales. Currently, seven other cities have adopted the resolution including Wasilla but not including Anchorage.
“I feel in some ways it’s really premature, but I don’t know how else we protect the interests of the city of Palmer,” Mayor Edna DeVries said.
The motion for resolution 19-020 passed unanimously, and the council continued their budgeting process in the committee on the whole following the regularly scheduled council meeting.