The City and Borough of Juneau, with five years of decreasing State revenues and a year of the pandemic economic struggles, might have kept land values even.
But no. Instead, the assessment of commercial land values has resulted in an increase of up to 150% on as many as 700 properties, driving taxes up for those property owners, many of whom are not employed by the State of Alaska, but depend on private sector commerce for their livelihoods.
Over 30 of the commercial property owners said they have individually asked the city for data and explanations as to why the assessed values increased so dramatically.
Many of the taxpayers have also appealed to the Board of Equalization, but have not been able to have their challenges heard, they said.
The group said it has asked the Assessor’s Office to explain the methodology used to develop such a dramatic one-year increase in so many land values. The information is needed for the Board of Equalization can hold a fair and equitable hearing of the appeals, they said in a news release.
The Juneau taxpayers, not satisfied with the lack of response from the city, are now taking their case to the court of public opinion by issuing the press release stating their concerns. The press release was sent by local civic leader PeggyAnn McConnochie on behalf of the property owners.
In May, the Juneau Assembly considered raising and lowering the property tax rate, but ultimately left it nearly unchanged, a reduction of .10 mills, even though Rorie Watt, the city manager, had asked for a .2 mill rate increase.
Instead, the Assessor’s Office took the actual values of properties to a new high.
Property taxes are set by multiplying the mill rate, set by the Assembly, by the value as determined by the Juneau Assessor’s Office each year.
A $400,000 home in Juneau owes about $4,224 a year in property taxes.