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Unalaska City Council increases senior sales tax refund to $400, starting next year

Berett Wilber

Starting next year, seniors in Unalaska will be eligible for a bigger sales tax refund from the city: $400, up from $200.

The Unalaska City Council voted unanimously last week to increase the amount for the first time since the refund program began in 2005. The ordinance was introduced earlier this year as a way to help elders deal with rising airfare prices and other costs of living.

“If you’re 65 and older, you’re on limited income, you have fixed resources, you’re probably retired,” said Councilor Shari Coleman last month. “And so this is a means in which to help alleviate living in a very expensive area — to help alleviate the costs and the burdens of living here.”

The City Council’s vote also established criteria for proof of residency.

People 65 years and older qualify for the refund if they’ve lived in Unalaska for at least 30 days and intend to stay.

Starting next year, applicants must show evidence of current Alaska voter registration at an Unalaska address, evidence of approved eligibility for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend at an Unalaska address, or other evidence of island residency at the discretion of the City Clerk’s Office.

This year, more than 8o people applied for Unalaska’s senior refund.

Sofia was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s reported around the U.S. for local public radio stations, NPR and National Native News. Sofia has a Master of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana, a graduate certificate in Documentary Studies from the Salt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. In between her studies, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, Colorado for a few years.
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