Anchorage Assembly passes 2019 budget revision: Another $5.7 million - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
HomeThe 907Anchorage Assembly passes 2019 budget revision: Another $5.7 million

Anchorage Assembly passes 2019 budget revision: Another $5.7 million

DYSON, KENNEDY DISSENT ON TAX-SPEND PLAN

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday passed the first quarter revisions to the 2019 budget approved in November.

It’s an increase of $5.7 million to the tax base, due to higher costs and revenue that fell short of projections made when the original budget passed.

The preliminary budget is passed in November before the city actually has all of the data. The first quarter adjustment is typical, after better numbers are in.

The main cost drivers for the 2019 budget increases were labor, health care, and police and fire retirement systems. New costs included in this adjustment include the new voter-approved bonds (operation and maintenance related costs), some workers compensation settlements, and other litigation settlements.

Revenues did not materialize to the level hoped for and aren’t expected to increase for this budget cycle. Those items are the state revenue sharing, tobacco tax income, slower federal Medicaid (ambulance) reimbursements, and lower utilities revenues.
Although the quarterly adjustment was lower than any of the last five years, it increases the tax burden. All of the increases are considered allowable under the tax cap requirements but the adjustment inches up the taxes allowed to be collected under the tax cap. That higher level becomes the base the municipality will start at for the 2020 budget. In other words, property taxpayers can expect their tax bills to be even higher next year.
If Anchorage ends up paying the unfunded bond debt reimbursements Anchorage will add an additional $180 tax per $100,000 of property value, which for the average house is well over $500 more in property taxes.

Property taxes have already risen year over year by five percent. For every $100,000 in value, owners now pay nearly $880 in property taxes to the municipality for services and another $700 per year for schools.

Anchorage’s mill rate of 16.4 is the second highest in Alaska, according to Connie Yoshimura at Dwell Realty. “Only Fairbanks has a higher mill rate of 19.8. In Anchorage the tax on a $350,000 home is $5,740 and $8,200 on a $500,000 home, excluding any exemptions entitled to the property owner. In Fairbanks, those same home values would be taxed at $6,930 and $9,900,”  she wrote.

Source: Dwell Realty

Of course, if Gov. Michael Dunleavy gets his way, every man, woman, and child in Alaska will be receiving a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend, enough to pay for those local property tax, school bond increases, and then some.

Assembly members Crystal Kennedy and Fred Dyson were the only two who voted against the budget adjustment. While campaigning for Assembly, Kennedy said she heard time and again from people that they were paying all the taxes they could afford.

“This absolutely raises the tax burden on property owners. And another thing that really concerns me is that this pushes up the level to a point where we start at a higher level next year with the taxes,” she said.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • It’ so easy to spend “OPM”. That’s “other people’s money”. Looks like the Anchorage assembly and the state legislature’s mantra.

  • I am merely renting my home from city government. Is it any wonder people are leaving in droves. For all the property taxes we pay there are still potholes everywhere, crime is spiraling out of control, the port expansion is still not done after $600 million evaporated, test scores and graduation rates continue to languish. When will we the taxpaying public say enough is enough and hold city politician’s accountable?

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