Property taxes just went up in Anchorage for schools - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, September 25, 2021
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Property taxes just went up in Anchorage for schools

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STUDENT POPULATION DECLINING, BUDGET INCREASING

The Anchorage Assembly this week approved a 1.3 percent property tax increase that will bring the Municipality another $3.3 million to fund the growing Anchorage School District budget.

It’s an increase that city fathers say taxpayers will hardly notice.

The Assembly also approved spending $885 million on the school district’s operating budget, a 13 percent increase over last year.

The associated mill rate for schools will hit 7.15, a 3.5 percent increase over the current rate. For comparison, the school portion of the mill rate was 6.79 in 2007. By 2017, it had crept up to 6.92.

Overall, the current mill rate for Anchorage real properties is about 16.4, for all local government and school services.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

According to Realtor Connie Yoshimura, the tax on a $350,000 home in Anchorage is $5,740 while a $500,000 home owes $8,200 to the Muni, excluding any exemptions entitled to the Anchorage property owner.

The increased school tax will add between $74 and $107 to the property taxes of homes in this valuation range.

The school district’s final budget won’t be final until after the State budget is signed, which is expected before the beginning of the State’s fiscal year beginning July 1.

Anchorage schools are primarily funded through the State of Alaska “foundation funding formula” and local property taxes.  Federal revenue come from Federal Impact Aid and reimbursements for JRTOTC instructors, and Medicaid. A small amount of revenue is generated by things like facility rentals.

However, Gov. Michael Dunleavy has proposed pulling back the state’s reimbursement of local school construction bonds, which now reimburses locally approved projects.

That would leave those due payments on bonds to Anchorage property taxpayers, and could cost them an average of $430 per homeowner.

The Anchorage School District budget is predicated on assumptions that there will be no change to the state’s base student allocation, which is $5,930 per student, or foundation funding formula. The district was also counting on an additional $8.4 million that was in House Bill 287, passed in by the 2018 Legislature, which gave extra funding outside the foundation formula. The district assumes there will be no decrease in the State’s debt reimbursement.

Meanwhile, Anchorage voters are facing another tax increase in a ballot proposition in the current municipal ballot, which would have voters approve another $59.1 million in capital spending for schools. A homeowner with a $300,000 valuation would pay an additional $40 a year in property taxes if this bond passes. Ballots are due in by April 2.

[Read: Five things you should know about the Anchorage bond package]

SAGGING ENROLLMENT IN ANCHORAGE
The school district has gone from having 48,707 students in 2007, to 46,949 in 2018, a decrease of 3.61 percent over 11 years. Administrators predict a loss of another 580 students in the fall of 2019.
Also, in the 2007-2008 school year, the district received 65.39 percent of its budget from the State of Alaska; now it’s receiving 58 percent of its funding from the State. As spending has increased, the state portion has become a smaller portion of overall spending, which is being picked up by local taxpayers.
The school district is expecting to reduce the number of teachers and staff allocated for the coming year, including a reduction of 46 full time equivalent (FTE) elementary school teachers. The middle school teacher allocation is being reduced by 13.8 FTE, an average of 1.4 FTE per school. High school teacher allocation is being reduced by 19.1 FTE, an average of 2.4 per school due to lower anticipated enrollment next year.
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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

  • How much of this 1.3% property tax increase will find it’s way into educator’s and administrator’s paychecks? 25? 50? 75? 100?

  • It ain’t over till the tax lady sings. This is just the first of many tax increases to come.

    Thank you Carol Como and the ASD for building Taj Majals, claiming the
    State would pay the bills. Just a latte a day they said.

    We talked about this till the radio tubes glowed red hot with anger. No one listened and here we are. We told you so…… Progressive fiscal facists talk the talk, and we get to pay exorbitant taxes for substandard performance.

    I’m a hater I guess. I hate that my taxes are higher than my mortgage.

    • Let’s see…no State income taxes, no sales taxes, annual PFDs, and compared to the rest of the Nation, property taxes are reasonable. I’m having a hard time finding some sympathy to share. Alaska has been more fortunate than most in being able to provide such an excellent education system. Time to show little gratitude and support, I’d say, and to stop complaining about your blessings.

      • Property Taxes are no where close to reasonable. I pay more in property tax in Alaska then I have in any other state for the last 25 years of owning houses.

      • Well said, Citizen.
        .
        The Proletariat are grateful to the Peoples Government for generously providing money, living essentials, and the necessary education to practice correct political thought.
        .
        Indeed, a true Worker requires no sympathy, but lives for the purposes of the State, believing fully in the maxim: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

      • How can anyone seriously believe “Alaska has been more fortunate than most in being able to provide such an excellent education system”? When nearly 60% of Alaska’s graduates who attend college have to spend one-three years taking remedial courses definitely doesn’t prove we have “an excellent education system”.
        .
        I will gladly donate my entire PFD every year to any politician who endorses and strengthens our current charter schools and creates a voucher system so all parents, regardless of income or zip code, can choose where to send their kids. Throwing more money at the schools, or any other problem, doesn’t work. And increasing taxes to spend more for the same poor quality education is insane.

  • ASD is the largest waste in spending being rated 51 on the national scale of stupidity also paying some of the very highest wages out and retirements for it. Well done! Time to re evaluate their budget instead of always passing it on to the taxpayers because the tax payers are getting screwed for their return.

  • BOHICA…
    .
    What a surprise. Anchorage taxpayers have to pay more money for their education industry, already top-ranked in the country for bad quality and high cost.
    .
    Things’ll improve when Anchorage voters figure out how to regain control of their voting system by getting rid of mail-in voting and restoring traditional polling places which aren’t so prone to ballot harvesting and ballot corruption.
    .
    … or when a lot of them vote with their feet like they did in the 80’s.

    • Well said.
      Zero transparency with mail-in ballots. It invites corruption.

  • Well said Morrigan!
    Zero transparency with mail-in ballots. It invites corruption.
    There should be no acceptance or tolerance with mail-in voting.

  • I’ll concede that this is tangential but it ties in to what Morrigan said. I was at the Assembly meeting Tuesday night. I left while this debate was going on; my child is enrolled in another school district so this didn’t directly affect me. There were other interesting things going on. Early on, there was a dust-up between opposing factions of the 4th Avenue Theatre issue during discussion of a resolution. Christopher Constant is very involved in issues related to post-census Assembly composition. Apparently, he’s sore that he’s the only Assembly member in his district (for some reason, the chorus of “Eskimo” by Corky and the Juice Pigs popped into my head). While school funding was debated, I went to the lobby where I saw my old friend Benny Lena holding court with a bevy of fellow cab drivers. They were there for Eric Croft’s AO 2019-40, repeal of AMC 11 and AMCR 11 (taxi regulation). In that group, there were immigrants from Albania, Somalia and South Korea, among other places. During the conversation, one of them asked “How come the Assembly is all white?” Someone else mentioned Felix Rivera. Technically, the Census Bureau considers Hispanic origin to be an ethnicity and not a race, so the question still stands. At the event at Clark Middle School last month, it was alleged that the Alaska Democratic Party only pays lip service to diversity. Specifically mentioned was the fact that diverse neighborhoods are represented in the legislature by folks like Tom Begich and Geran Tarr, white people who were originally elected over African Americans in their party’s primary.

    • Fair point, hardly tangential…
      .
      So immigrants from Albania, Somalia and South Korea, among other places, asked, “How come the Assembly is all white?”
      .
      Surely the answer went something like:
      .
      “Fellow Americans from the world of Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid, Slobodan Milosevic, and the socialist paradise that fosters the Mafia Shqiptare, did you emigrate to America only to criticize my country, to demand America must, in the same of “diversity”, give you everything you couldn’t get in your countries?”
      .
      Is the “all white” Assembly a problem for you because community organizers taught you that “diversity” matters much more than unity; white faces got theirs, now you get yours?
      .
      Or is the “all white” Assembly a symbolic issue for you –as it is for so many of your fellow Americans regardless of race–, because you have every right to believe the socialist, moral rot that infects this Assembly might be lessened a bit by replacing incumbents with fresh, intelligent faces such as yours…
      .
      who aren’t about to allow socialist, moral rot from the old country, much less anywhere else, to infect the new country?”
      .
      Maybe your campaign motto is, “If you don’t know Anchorage like a cab driver does, then you don’t know Anchorage!”?
      .
      This could work, no?

      • Good day to you Morrigan and thanks for your reply. The first thing that should be remembered here is the prominence of our immigrant communities; the professor at UAA has gotten a lot of mileage in national media out of his claim that Anchorage has the most diverse census tract and most diverse schools in the entire United States. The Korean community has a long history in Anchorage. If I’m not mistaken, South Korea is viewed as one of the most heavily Christian nations on the planet. I’m pretty sure that Billy Graham had much to do with that; as I remember, around the turn of the 20th century, Korea was one of the nations where immigration to the United States was categorically denied due to their belief systems. The Filipino community also has a long history here. Filipinos are somewhere near five percent of Alaska’s total population at present. I question what relationship the newcomers may have with those who have been here a long time. I talk to some of the younger generations and get the sense that they’ve never heard of Thelma Buchholdt (or for that matter, another old friend, Irene Adrayan). And let’s not forget that “Ask Gabby” has its roots in a white politician actively courting the support of a fast-rising immigrant group in Anchorage.
        .
        In the conversation I referenced, the specific follow-up to “How come the Assembly is all white?” was “How come there are no Natives on the Assembly?” In my hometown of Fairbanks, the 2010 Census recorded that ten percent of the population within city limits was Native. In quite recent history, we’ve had as part of the six-member council Joy Huntington, who I believe is mixed Gwich’in and Koyukon, and June Rogers, who is Inupiaq. Another Inupiaq, Chris Anderson, was also on the council a few years before those two. In Juneau, the 2010 Census recorded twelve percent of the population as Native, and we saw Johan Dybdahl and Randy Wanamaker serve on the Juneau Assembly not too many years ago. In the case of Anchorage, often dubbed “Alaska’s largest Native village”, I’m honestly scratching my head trying to think if there have ever been any Natives on the Anchorage Assembly. During the previous decade, we had a Native member of the school board, Mary Marks. However, any hopes she had of a political career were dashed when she was popped for DUI during the 2005 AFN convention. With the ANCSA corporations, ANTHC and other entities attracting the best and brightest from across the state to Anchorage, you would think this to be a no-brainer. Of course, those people obviously have a good thing going in their own little world. Sticking your neck out in the political arena may jeopardize that good thing, so perhaps they would only desire something amounting to “the whole enchilada” such as the case with Tara Sweeney’s recent appointment.

        • Well said, can’t find anything with which to disagree…
          .
          Don’t let that get out…

  • That’s funny. The city father’s say the taxpayers won’t even notice the increase. Ever notice that’s what they always say about bond’s and just about every tax increase. But thats how you end up, over time, and different increases & bonds, no longer able to afford keeping your home due to rising property taxes. Everytime a tax is added the supporters look at that 1 single increase and say its not much…but on top of how much already & probable future bond increase requests plus proposed income & sales tax increases. None of these taxes stand alone but they just pile on, one on top of the other. Maybe the government will pay for my new roof when the time comes for that. Not likely.

  • When the people of Anchorage foolishly voted for that 10 cent tax per gallon of gas in exchange for reduced property taxes, did they really believe that property taxes would stay reduced? Fool me once…. Now you have higher property taxes and the 10 cent a gallon tax.

    • The gas tax was never up for vote, Ethan’s Assembly passed it on our behalf. That was before their scammy mail-in ballots (due to which they can now “trust” us to vote “correctly” on their absurd alcohol tax).

  • Never mind the rest of Alaska. How do the test scores for Anchorage compare to the country?? The USA mean, or average, SAT composite score is 1068.

    And the average scores for Anchorage 1190.

    So if you want to throw in the home schooled children in the state scores I am sure you will find the problem

  • Selling my house. I’ll be downsizing until my children graduate because I can’t afford the property taxes, the mortgage, and groceries. But those ASD administrators…they’ll be just fine.
    I’ve lived here for 20 years and I’ve finally had enough.

  • Quit building architectural masterpieces.
    Where does the NEW GAS TAX enter this. I thought it was put in place to lower property taxes. The administration can afford a 12 year tax relief for their special projects.

    • It is called “taxation amnesia”. Every election there is yet another bond proposal, tax on this and that (they slipped that gas tax in under most people’s noses). People seem to forget from year to year and then just carry one – and oddly enough – most of them support the next tax to come along. I just don’t get it….

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