SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Senior Citizen Property Tax

By Ed Zastrow


April 05, 2016
Tuesday AM

Ketchikan's senior citizens are disappointed that some in the State Legislature are seeking to balance the State budget on the backs of the Alaska's most vulnerable citizens. A total of 985 senior citizen and disabled veteran households in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough stand to lose nearly $1.3 million annually if a last-minute bill to eliminate the mandatory State senior citizen and disabled veteran property tax exemption is adopted by the State Legislature.

Senate Bill 210, which was introduced March 30th, removes the mandatory exemption and instead allows municipalities to place before voters an optional property tax exemption. If the City of Ketchikan chose not to enact the optional exemption, it would collect an estimated $455,749 in additional property taxes
from senior citizens and disabled veterans based on current assessed values. The Borough would collect an additional $837,441.

Regardless of whether the Ketchikan Gateway Borough would exercise the optional exemption, it would be required to pay more money to the State of Alaska to fund education. SB 210 would result in a reduction of State Foundation funding for Ketchikan's schools by approximately $370,000 annually beginning July 1, 2018. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough would be required to backfill that reduction.

The senior citizen and disabled veteran property tax exemption program was first started 42 years ago. The exemption was limited to the first $150,000 of the assessed value of real property in 1987.

Ketchikan has long recognized the importance of senior citizens in this community. For 42 years, the Borough has provided a sales tax exemption for senior citizens. The City of Ketchikan has also long granted a sales tax exemption for seniors. The current Comprehensive Plan for Ketchikan Gateway Borough recognizes the need for, and supports efforts in providing for safe and accessible housing for seniors.

Ed Zastrow
President of AARP
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received March 31, 2016 - Published April 05, 2016




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