By BOB MAIER
L = (T – d – e) x (1 + C + P)
And that, dear mathematicians, is the formula for the annual Anchorage Tax Cap calculation as codified in AMC 12.25.
As the 2021 election for Anchorage Mayor enters the run-off phase two questions need to be asked of each candidate. First … do you understand this calculation? And second … in order to provide transparency to the electorate, would you support having the calculation of the Anchorage Tax Cap verified as part of the independently audited Certified Annual Financial Report – (CAFR).
Since the enactment of the Tax Cap in 1984 Anchorage Taxpayers have relied on the Municipal Administration seated at the time to do the calculation correctly. But has that been the case?
The math itself is not so complex. The problem is, how were the individual components of the formula determined?
On December 02, 2003, 156 days after taking office, Mayor Mark Begich and the Anchorage Assembly passed AO-2003-160 … the largest single property tax increase in the history of the Municipality of Anchorage. 2003-160 removed the Municipal Utility Service Assessments and Municipal Enterprise Service Assessments – (MUSA and MESA) – from the tax cap calculation. In the April 2009 election Proposition 9 … the “Repair Our Tax Cap” initiative … passed with a 60% majority reversing the provisions implemented in 2003 by re-introducing the MUSA’S and MESA’S back into the Tax Cap calculation.
In 2016 the Administration of Ethan Berkowitz mounted their own assault on the Anchorage Tax Cap. In the April 2016 election Proposition 8 was passed by a 61% majority which reversed former Mayor Berkowitz’s effort to alter the Tax Cap.
What we can take from both of these efforts is that some Administrations, when they hold elected office, will seek to alter the historic Anchorage Tax Cap calculation in order to increase tax revenue to city government.
A third-party audit of the Anchorage Tax Cap calculation as part of the Certified Annual Financial Report is long overdue.
Now if my math is correct … two questions for two candidates equals a total of four answers.
Bob Maier is a Resident of Anchorage who has been paying property taxes to the Municipality every year since 1978.