Bethel City Council votes to tax adventure flight companies on extra services

During their July 12 meeting, Bethel City Council unanimously passed a measure to begin ensuring adventure flight companies are taxed on their extra services. During the meeting prior, an attorney for flight company Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures tried to argue against the tax, arguing that the city can’t legally tax FAA flights.

During this meeting, Bethel City Attorney Libby Bakalar agreed, but said that every service besides the flight itself can and will be taxed by the city at their 6% sales tax rate.

“So for example, if there’s a guide service that goes along with the plane trip, the cost of that guide service is being charged. If you’re selling a package where you put people on a plane but you’re feeding them lunch, you have a naturalist, whatever services you have that aren’t the specific air travel services are still taxable and need to be itemized out,” said Bakalar.

During council’s discussion on the tax, the Bethel City Clerk reminded the council that the city’s sales tax is the city’s primary form of revenue. The city plans to release a legal brief on why it’s entitled to tax these services at the next city council meeting.

And this October, city voters will be able to decide whether the City of Bethel can issue mask mandates. During last night’s meeting, the Bethel City Council voted unanimously to add a ballot proposition about city mask mandates to the municipal October election ballot.

In another unanimous vote, the council also voted to approve an extra $55,727 to the Bethel Fire Department’s budget. Firefighters were forced to work extra shifts over the past year due to fewer volunteer firefighters. The Bethel Fire Chief estimated that the department lost about 22 of its about 25 volunteer firefighters during the pandemic, but

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