The Bethel City Council meeting on Jan. 28 will cover liquor licenses and taxes.
Fili’s Pizza is applying to renew its liquor license for selling beer and wine. In addition, the ownership is changing hands. Current owner Mefail Saliu is selling the restaurant to Marina Inc., a company partially owned by Todd Perez. Perez formerly managed Caribou Traders Liquor Store, which shut down earlier this month when Bethel entered local option alcohol status that allowed restaurants to continue selling beer and wine.
The council has 60 days to protest the liquor license renewal and transfer. However, council member Cecilia "Cece" Franko is proposing that they waive that opportunity to protest.
Bethel City Council will also be looking at a new way to collect sales tax on online purchases. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that retailers had to collect and remit sales tax for what they sell online in any state. However, many businesses still do not because the scale of collecting a different sales tax rate and remitting it to each city is so large.
That’s why the Alaska Municipal League recently created the Alaska Remote Sales Tax Commission, a state-wide organization that will serve as a middleman between online retailers and municipal governments to simplify the transactions. The city council will consider joining the commission tonight, which already has 22 municipalities participating, including Juneau, Nome, and Toksook Bay. Acting City Manager Bill Howell says that the city could gain up to $300,000 in new sales tax revenue.
Joining the commission is just a first step. The city would also have to update its tax code, which is not on the agenda for the Jan. 28 council meeting.