Unalaskans will be voting on three ballot measures.
The first two ballot questions have to do with how much authority the city has during an epidemic.
Ballot Question 1
This measure would limit how much power the City Manager and City Council have during an epidemic.
If Ballot Question 1 passes, the city wouldn’t be able to impose certain local restrictions, such as those mandated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Things like mask requirements or limiting the number of people in bars and restaurants would require a court order.
Supporters say it is an individual’s decision whether they want to take precautionary measures, like self-isolating or wearing a mask, and that city government should not have the power to impose those mandates.
Opponents say mandates save lives, and the city should be able to require public safety precautions.
Voting “Yes” means you want to limit the city’s ability to do things like require masks during an epidemic.
“No” is a vote to keep things as they are.
Ballot Question 2
The second ballot question is almost identical to Ballot Question 1, but it would limit the power of the Director of Emergency Preparedness — that’s who coordinates the city’s response when an emergency has been declared. If the measure passes, the director would need a court order to issue certain mandates during an epidemic.
Supporters say this measure would prevent the city from infringing on Unalaskans’ rights without a court order.
Opponents say it’s important to have a strong, centralized response to ensure Unalaskans’ safety during an epidemic, and it’s well within the director’s capacity to coordinate such a response.
Voting “Yes” means you support setting limits on the Director of Emergency Preparedness.
“No” is a vote to allow the director to continue coordinating the city’s emergency response.
Ballot Question 3
The third question asks whether the City of Unalaska should raise its sales tax from 3% to 4.5% to offset rising utility costs. It would create a fund to lower ratepayers’ bills.
The City Council recently approved rate increases for utilities like water and electric. This measure would create a fund intended to lower the high rate Unalaskans pay for utilities. That fund would be paid for by the increased sales tax.
The idea is that not only Unalaska residents pay sales tax. We get a lot of non-residents (through industry and tourism) who come here, spend money at places like Safeway, and leave. By raising the sales tax, it would generate more revenue for the city, which it would then use to offset utility rates for residents.
Proponents say the new sales tax would lower the cost of living for ratepayers in Unalaska by spreading the burden to non-residents.
Opponents say this could create an unfair system where people who don’t use utilities would have to pay to offset bills for people who do; if you use more utilities, you should be the one to pay for them.
“Yes” is a vote to raise the sales tax and create a fund to offset the high price of utilities.
“No” is a vote to keep the sales tax at its current rate of 3%.