Michael Tavoliero: Eaglexit, two years later and the paperwork is about to be submitted

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

A bunch of my friends and I got together in the beginning of 2019 and formed Eaglexit. Eaglexit is an organization founded to educate the citizens of Anchorage’s Assembly District 2 (Eagle River and Chugiak) on the realities of detaching from Anchorage and incorporating as its own municipal government. This idea has been around since the early 1970s.

Education on the topic of Alaska’s local government and the fundamentals to form a local government, especially in these times, is critical to understanding how local government will work for its constituents rather than the current reality of constituents working for their local government.

What was fascinating were the responses we encountered in our journey to provide local government education to one of the most “conservative” communities in Alaska.

When considering our approaches to informing our neighbors, we discovered that often conservatives were more rigid and resistant to change and preferred clear answers. What was a bigger surprise was conservatives weren’t as interested as I thought they would be to find out for themselves the answers to their own questions.

On the other hand, the liberals we engaged were more flexible and tolerant of our mission. They were curious, but also weren’t motivated to discover answers to their own questions.

Both groups were hesitant about change and reluctant to discover what it would bring.

I’m not saying that either one is smarter than the other. Everybody is different. It is just how wiring has evolved over their lives. 

The result is conservatives lean to more structured and persistent cognitive styles, while liberals are likely to draw from that “aha” moment. In many ways they end up with the same conclusions, but their journeys take them down different paths.

Regardless of political persuasion, most of the good people of Assembly District 2 are working. They are providing for those they love. They are taking care of their families. Most working couples in Assembly District 2 don’t have time for extra activities. They work with their heads down with one purpose…to enjoy the company of those they love. They work and live because time for them is a precious resource, which cannot be recycled. 

With the responsibilities of raising a family and working, there is scarce opportunity to engage in community involvement, which poses a challenge as the limited time available often results in ignorance and apathy. 

Ignorance and apathy manifest as pseudo-somnambulation. For most of us, we “wake up” only when something affects us personally and by then it is often too late.

The majority who spoke supportively and wanted us to get the job done supported us through donations and kept us moving in the right direction. Thank you.

We are now about to submit working documents to the Alaska Local Boundary Commission. But even now after almost four years, I find newcomers who will ask the standard question, “Will my taxes go up?”, and some who declare, “I don’t get involved in politics.”, and only a few who say “I’m not interested.

For those that ask, “Will my taxes go up?”, my answer is no. Under our analysis, property taxes will go down. As you will see in the following paragraphs, property taxes through the municipality of Anchorage have gone up tremendously in the past few years.

More to the point and to answer that question, in 2019, the value assigned by the Municipality of Anchorage in Assembly District 2 to taxable real property assessments less exemptions was $3.706 billion. Add in the business property inventory tax assessment of $80 million, the total was $3.786 billion. All combined, the total property taxes for Assembly District 2 came to $58.687 million.

In 2022, the value assigned by the Municipality of Anchorage in Assembly District 2 to taxable real property assessments, minus exemptions, was $4.178 billion. Add in the business property inventory tax assessment of $91.991 million, this added up to $4.27 billion. Total property taxes for Assembly District 2:  $67.959 million.

The increase in total property assessment from 2019 to 2022 for Assembly District 2 was 12.78%

The increase in total property taxes from 2019 to 2022 for Assembly District 2 was 15.75%.

I urge you now:  It’s time for all of us to wake up and get involved. 

With the utmost respect regarding those that state, “I don’t get involved in politics,” examine our historical record of the last decade. Politics have raised our taxes, duplicated services, inefficiently spent our tax dollars and left a questionable future for our children.

There are those who are not interested in politics, either because they find it boring or because they do not see how it directly affects their lives. Some feel that their political engagement will not make a difference, and therefore choose not to engage in political discussions or activities.

But the overwhelming reason for not getting involved is fear.

Some don’t like conflicts and potential arguments with others, especially friends and family, which political activity will invariably create. Many of us fear being judged or criticized for our political views and avoid politics completely. With that, we become resistant to change.

It’s important to note that while people might say they don’t “do” politics, it is difficult to completely disengage from politics because it affects many aspects of our lives, such as healthcare, education, employment, and more.

For those who insist they are not interested, I’ll leave you with Plato’s warning of almost 20 centuries ago:

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chaired Eaglexit.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Wow I’m suprised to be honest this has gotten that far. In one end I’m concerned that eagle river detaching from anchorage will doom Anchorage to Seattle Status, but again, eagle river shouldn’t have to suffer under the neomarxists who are on our assembly.

  2. Great news for Eagle River. I might have to relocate out there in the land of conservative logic – reason – common sense.

  3. The best thing the residents of Eagle River could do is get out from under the thumb of the Anchorage Bureaucracy that is ruing the city. I wish Sand Lake. jewel lake could get out. We pay unreal property taxes and the city spends the money everywhere else.

  4. I think ER area should exit. I served for 6 years on the Anchorage planning and zoning commission and 3 years on the Anchorage platting board. I’m also a licensed general contractor specializing in remodeling. The amount of ridiculous paperwork required for any construction related project in Anchorage is amazing. For example, in Anchorage putting an addition on a home in Anchorage would require approximately $10,000 in plans, engineering, permitting and inspections. In ER, it’s a land use permit, an as built, and some simple elevation drawings for $1,000 (roughly). No crazy paperwork that not long delays the start of a project tremendously, but doesn’t really add to the project except for more paper. Having been a remodeling contractor in both ER and Anchorage for 26, I can say that you all are headed in the right direction. The overwhelming paperwork in Anchorage is driving business away from Anchorage and to ER and the valley where there isn’t a huge burden of government oversight.

  5. The real answer to the question “Will my taxes go up?” is YES, big time.
    All of the public infrastructure in Eagle River/ Chugach is owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, such as:
    – Schools
    – Fire stations and equipment
    – Police stations and equipment
    – Every road that isn’t private or owned by the State of Alaska
    – Road maintenance buildings and equipment, including snow removal equipment.
    – Parks
    The list goes on and on. Does Mr. Tavoliero think the MOA is just going to hand over millions or even billions of dollars worth of infrastructure free of charge? Infrastructure that was paid for by all MOA tax payers. Not a chance, in some cases it wouldn’t even be legal for the MOA to do that.
    Not to mention that separating Eagle River/ Chugach from the MOA would require an MOA wide vote, good luck with that.
    The real question should be; Is Micheal getting paid for running the Eaglexit scam?

    • The point you miss, or chose to ignore.

      Eagle River will be paying for itself, responsible for itself, and not having to fund the latest socialist cause de jour of the Anchorage politburo.

      It would be interesting to see how much Eagle River has been paying for all the issues you listed above. I suspect at lot more than Mountain View.

      Not sure if you ever actually studied American history, but until the last 50 years self determination has been a bedrock principle.

      Regarding if he’s being paid to do this, it’s a sad jibe that smacks of intellectual vapidness with a touch of desperation. Regardless, the resounding answer is “so what if he is”?

      • Can’t help but notice you didn’t address my point. Where is Eagle River/ Chugach going to get the money to buy all of that infrastructure from the MOA without raising taxes?
        I’m no fan of the MOA, in fact I’m in the final days of exiting it myself. But, if Mr. Tavoliero is telling the people of Eagle River/Chugach that they will have lower taxes he is either an idiot or he’s scamming them.
        Not to mention the leftists running the Anchorage Assembly aren’t about to let that revenue source go without a fight, a fight they have the war chest to win.

    • Your taxes in Anchorage will go up because the $66million ER-C paid Anchorage will be on you. At the same time the taxes in the Chugach Regional Borough will be reduced significantly. The approach Eaglexit is taking by using the LBC does NOT give Anchorage a vote on the Assembly District 2(ER-C) detachment and subsequent incorporation as the Chugach Regional Borough. This approach is state law since the founding of our great state.

    • I was thinking the same Lurch.

      Will Eagle River choose the way of the MatSu Borough and force the State Troopers to cover policing?

      And what will happen to home or business insurance rates if there is no police or fire departments?

      Property taxes may decrease, but other costs will soon bury the new borough.

      EagleExit may sound good on it’s face, but digging into the details makes it look pretty bad

      • And that will be their choice. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. My guess is it will trigger and outflow from Anchorage to Eagle, but time will tell.

        Is that what bothers you? They will choose to pay for things which they feel will benefit them, not Anchorage?

        More I’m curious why you care what Eagle River chooses to do.

        • I couldn’t care less if ER leaves the MOA.

          I am just playing devil’s advocate and asking some questions that I feel Mr Tavoliero failed to answer in his piece

          • In the 70s the motivation for avoiding annexation by Anchorage of this area north and further along the Inlet was retention of a way of life, and the consequential reality of being swallowed up as if ‘merely a part of’ some larger faceless entity. Chugiak High School was already one of the finest high schools in the Anchorage School District, as well as elementary schools in Birchwood, Chugiak and the schools in Eagle River. The Chugiak Volunteer Fire Dept had a long history of caring for its own, sound reliance on local State Troopers, as well the public libraries, as other amenities available and accessible to the residents of the area.

            I keep bringing up the PeopleMover because it was going to be of benefit to connect people to jobs, business, doctor’s appointments, commute to UAA/ACC campuses, etc and so it did at first. It went out from the Anchorage bus station twice a day to Peters Creek, and people could rely on it for transportation. Yes, on my way back to Chugiak in the evening sometimes there were only half a doze riders, but it’s like high speed rail; if you make it they will come–people don’t want to be making excuses about why they missed class–the bus didn’t come, and finally, the bus stopped going out that way.

            It seems a bit strange for someone like Mr Tavoliero to come through like the Music Man, to write up studies about the idea of Eaglexit, typecasting the residents as one way or the other while failing to consider the social history of the area. It just makes people wonder where he came from, what is his motivation, and who’s paying him to round up enthusiasm for a project with dubious transparency and input. Surely, there is a wide group of proponents all with different reasons, but if the main reason is to change Eagle River to a gated community or discourage folks from moving there in any way, then the initial rationale is quite invalid.

            In some ways, the horse left the barn long ago for returning Chugiak and the area around it to its former status as just ‘a place among other places’ along the inlet.

      • FYI Big Lake has been considering forming their own city, and the good folk of the Mat-Su Borough are investigating Sheriffs. It’s a bit of a long shot, but I’m glad that at least people are discussing it.

    • Now, if you are not a paid muni troll, then I will personally apologize. Find a new home for your garbage. And I mean that in the literal sense. The only scam is the Anchorage Assembly, and the only money is lost revenue from their own scams. Is your real name Chris Constant by chance?

    • An observation here to your point.
      You are correct that MOA buildings are located in ER/Chugiak. What you conveniently ignore is that Chugiak/ER residents contributed considerable amounts to these municipal tax dollar. So technically after a split the MOA only PARTIALLY owns those facilities. That lowers the price tag considerably. Kindly refrain from making accusations or disparaging remarks towards those, who work so hard to bring this project forward, especially since they have the community support to see it to this point and hopefully fruition.

    • You rang? Wrongly. The Local Boundary Commission will settle infrastructure disputes, but public property within a local boundary belongs to the local boundary. Anchorage will lose tax revenue, but also a significant amount of cost – ER will have to assume what Anchorage will lose. I know Michael, and I know he’s done the math. No taxation without representation! Eaglexit must succeed.

  6. I am very much in support of separation from the municipality. Our community has a much different idea on the role of local government as it applies to our private property, schools, business and numerous other things. Our community has little voice on the assembly and our representatives, few as they are, have historically been on the opposite side of the river as the Anchorage majority. Our community council’s inputs are largely ignored by the all-powerful assembly. What may work for high density Anchorage does not work in our mostly rural community. Most of us live here because we want a different lifestyle than that of Anchorage. And most of all, we need to have our voices heard. We are not Anchorage, and do not desire to be like Anchorage. And we have our own tax base to support any and all services while being taxed at a fair rate for the actual services provided. The extent of these services should be at the majority consent of the taxpayer affected, not by a distant superpower. We need to be in control of our schools, parks, roads and community development, as well as public safety. Anchorage will definitely object to loosing such a strong revenue source and will use more of our tax money to advertise opposing views should it come to a vote. The real dirty secret is that Anchorage needs a larger landfill and desire it to be in our backyards. We will have no say in it under present conditions.

  7. I was opposed initially because of my disinterest in increasing the amount spent on government. Now I’ve come around. Anchorage is gone too far to the Left.

  8. An astute analysis, save for the quote by Plato at the end which on the surface may seem intellectual, but instead brushes a broad stroke of irony across the entirety of the article.
    Plato was in fact, not a proponent of self governance, or democratic rules and processes. Rather he proposed governance be reserved for the higher educated, the philosophers, and that their word be law, as a king or dictates directly to the masses (for their better good: sound a lot like Anchorage elites philosophy yet?).

    Borrowing from a philosopher who’s ideology refutes your own does you no favors.

    Surely you would be better served by a quote from many other options such as: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Cicero, Jefferson, Susan B Antony, Martin Luther King Jr., Mikhail Gorbachev?

  9. People in the Anchorage Muni want out because their community councils are totally ignored by the assembly. The assembly does whatever they and their friends want. Detachment of Assembly District 2 will give Eagle River Chugiak the ability to do what is best for their rural community. Their borough charter will be focused on self determination by the community via their community councils.

  10. Michael, I’ve tried to engage EaglExit in the past. My questions have gone unanswered, and while you might chalk that up to “Ignorance and apathy”, frankly it’s not my job to go look up all the financial figures to determine if EaglExit is feasible. It’s yours, to prove it to the taxpayer. Last time I was told to go to your website, which I did. No answers were present for my specific questions.

    Currently Eagle River benefits from services from the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, the Anchorage School District, the Anchorage Police Department, the Anchorage Fire Department, the city road maintenance (as contracted out to McKenna, which does an excellent job), among what I suspect are many other routine service departments that operate quietly in the background. Anchorage, presumably, can provide these services at a lower cost per household merely by the fact that the costs are spread across the entire city of Anchorage. If Eagle River were to separate, does your accounting that promises lower taxes factor in: are we going to buy the existing school buildings and infrastructure? Are we going to form a fledgling school district? Are teachers interested in leaving their existing union to come to work for a fledgling new district? (I know multiple teachers and they have all told me no). Are we going to buy the existing wastewater plant in Eagle River, along with the multiple well building and all the water and wastewater underground infrastructure? Are we going to form our own utility? Are we going to form new police and fire departments? How will we attract good candidates when competing with Anchorage? Why would experienced police, fire and experienced personnel in other departments agree to leave jobs that they most likely have strong wages and benefits working for Anchorage come to work for us unless we offer them something significantly better? I assume we will have a new mayor and assembly, too, and a need to pay them as well. How much will this infrastructure cost us to purchase and how much will personnel costs be? How long will we be paying for it?

    Alternatively, is our plan to keep using Anchorage services on some sort of a lease agreement?

    To date, no one has answered these questions for me. And no, I’m not guilty of apathy. I suppose one could say I’m ignorant, but not for lack of asking the questions of the people who ought to know the answers.

    Final point- has it even been considered that perhaps we should be looking to exit Anchorage and join the Mat-Su instead, to take advantage of their already larger infrastructure and not have to completely reinvent the wheel? The Mat-Su is a conservative area, which I think is the reason most people in Eagle River who are interested in EaglExit are considering it. They’re tired of the extreme left leaning politics of the Anchorage Assembly.

    Without substantive answers that make me feel that all factors have been taken into account on the costs to form a new city and have the infrastructure and personnel in place to support it, I can’t support EaglExit.

  11. What makes a good Stephen King novel? King knows instinctively what people fear, knows how to personalize it, compel readers, page after page, to face it, deal with it, then buy more Stephen King novels.
    .
    Suppose the overwhelming reason for not getting involved is fear, brought on by the atavistic instinct for self preservation justifiably sharpened by the appetite of the apex predator we know as government.
    .
    Their fear is justifiable. Not everyone’s born with a honey-badger temperament. Government at all levels seems weaponized against us, intent on destroying our borders, language, culture, economy, freedoms, taking our stuff, taking our money, mutilating our children, killing us with experimental vaccinations, illegal aliens, and fentanyl, all the while winding us up over the next Big Thing so we don’t concentrate too much on what just happened.
    .
    Even King couldn’t make this stuff up. A two-year horror novel, no end in sight, based on actual events, everyone’s in it, how’s that for a best seller?
    .
    Enter the prophets of a kinder, gentler government saying fear not, we’re here to help. Problem is some people receive the message fearfully because they’re constantly propagandized by news media trumpeting all the bad things American governments do to Americans who get involved.
    .
    Does chronic political abuse, real and perceived, creates a sense in some people of learned helplessness, fearfulness, similar to victims of chronic domestic-abuse?
    .
    If so, Eaglexit sponsors have to figure out how those people perceive the world around them, figure out how to reach them in an encouraging, populist, I-totally-give-a-damn-about-you-personally way. So it could take a fair amount of role-playing, your very own Robin Sage bit, but what the hell, they’re your people, make ’em feel wanted, like -you- care about -them-, because they’re worth the effort and who knows what they’ll do for you if they believe in you.
    .
    Like President Trump did, remember?
    .
    Unite Fearfuls and Deplorables, then you’ll have “involved”.

  12. Eaglexit cannot come soon enough!
    .
    The sane majority of Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood and Peters Creek deserve our freedom from the Anchorage Ass-embly’s tyrannical Marxist Ten. And we will have it!

  13. I had to laugh at the realization of liberals and conservatives both being hesitant to get involved. The explanation is simple, both groups fear major political actions such as these, because we both fear that the powers that be will use it as ANOTHER excuse to, proverbially, bend us over the desk and have their way.

    My personal view is that you’ll be much better off as your own entity. With ANC’s far left counsel and their crazy spending habits, chose self rule/control. Make regs as your community sees fit and spend your money in the best manner for your citizens.

    • That’s a valid point. We may be responsible for the area bonds until they can be retired. The contractor that maintains the roads that the state doesn’t does not care who signs their checks. We had a 100% volunteer fire department until the municipality converted over the Eagle River firehouse. Most of the area is still volunteer. APD tells me that they only assign a maximum of two patrols to our community. That would not be hard to replace. We would attract the best teachers available, much like private schools do. The types that fear their jobs without a union probably would not be the type we need. Don’t know about the water, most of us are on well and septic. But I am sure AWU will be happy to continue to collect their monthly billing, for services rendered.

  14. This topic is dead in the water if folks go into its study with the attitudes of the residents being either liberals or conservatives. I guarantee that a significant number of people that live there will refuse to be labeled as one way or the other by an upstart transplant.

    That the issue even arose in the 70s was that Anchorage was looking to expand its tax base and scooped up Chugiak, Birchwood, Peter’s Creek to near Eklutna and as far as Eagle River AGAINST the will of those inhabitants. Because even the People Mover route and the bike path then were extended beyond Muldoon, Anchorage was the decision maker as to whether those services would be maintained and THEY haven’t kept their side of the bargain in various ways.

    • You are absolutely correct. It’s not about political party, we are all being cheated equally out here. And somehow, the tax accessed values of our homes are being inflated at a far greater rate than Anchorage and inflation as well. To pay for services we don’t receive and regulations we don’t desire. Maybe we should seek representation based on tax contributions instead of population. Maybe we should have an input in our government. I say this as I watch volunteers shoveling our bike paths and look at the abandoned bus stops and locked parks, available only for fees. They have locked up permanently a large portion of Loretta French Park to use as a gravel dump, soon to be used as a real dump. Mount Highland has reached its capacity.

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