SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Tax Limitation ideas
By John Harrington


October 21, 2008
Tuesday PM

Mr. Dial's and Mr. Isaac's idea of a tax limitation initiative similar to California's Proposition #13 is quite appealing. When I investigated the idea I found a couple of major problems for instituting it here in Ketchikan. First, the State of Alaska requires that we assess all property at 100% of market value. The second problem is that the State requires the Borough to provide 4 mills toward funding education (and the State of Alaska determines the value of all property in the Borough). Those two items make the prop 13 type initiative unworkable at the local level. (It can only succeed as a state initiative.)

At a more fundamental level, it actually does not matter what a property's market value is. What matters is the assessment of taxes by the Assembly on all properties.

The development of a budget and the determination of the mill rate are the two specific action items that need to be followed closely. I have been surprised at how little comment the Assembly receives from the public. We hear from the Education community, and the not-for-profit community. (And I have supported some of their requests.) There is the occasional citizen who comes forward to ask that we hold the line or reduce taxes, but they are outnumbered by those asking for more money from the Borough and, that they don't mind paying higher taxes.

It appears that we are heading into some difficult financial times. Because of that some hard choices may need to be made during our next budget cycle. So I am asking that if you are concerned about your taxes, plan on attending a few Assembly meetings next April, May and June. Let your desires be known.

Last Spring, because of the dramatic increase in assessed valuation the Borough Administration brought a plan to reduce the mill rate. The Assembly ignored that plan and maintained the same mill rate. I doubt that the Assembly would have acted the same way had more citizens been actively involved.

John Harrington
Ketchikan, AK

About: "A regular Sitnews reader and a Borough Assembly member."

Received October 18, 2008 - Published October 21, 2008


Related Viewpoints:

letter City taxes and you By Rodney Dial

letter RE: City Taxes and You By Mike Isaac

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