Fairbanks mayor takes a look at tax alternatives

Ballot proposal would reduce property tax bills in the borough

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks Mayor Jim Whitaker says he wants voters to be able to consider different tax options to temper soaring property taxes in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

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Whitaker is pushing for a ballot proposal to go before voters during the municipal election in October to reduce property tax bills, which more than doubled between 1990 and 2005, according to borough estimates.

"The reality is the property tax burden of this community is reaching a breaking point," he said. "We're going to have to broaden our tax base."

The assessed values of about 800 properties have doubled since last year, also underscoring the need to diversify the tax base, he said.

Whitaker supports creating either a sales tax or a gross receipts tax to help bring down property taxes.

Property taxes fund two-thirds of borough services.

In February, Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly members plan to discuss ways to raise money outside of traditional property taxes. The assembly has the authority to place propositions on the October election ballot.

The city of Fairbanks also faces a property tax quandary. The city is facing a $10 million budget shortfall after voters decided last fall to slash city property taxes. City officials want to call a special election this spring to restore property taxes until a long-term, city-wide tax structure is in place.

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