Large home assessment increase a problem

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Sunday, April 23, 2006

I know most of the homeowners in Juneau have received their latest home assessment "sticker shock." They may be as annoyed at the increase in real estate tax assessments as I was. I know that many are appealing.

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A little calculation: Assume the value of the average Juneau home is $200,000 (a low, but round number) and that the average homeowner's tax increased by 15 percent from last year (a rough estimate confirmed in a conversation with a local tax assessor). If there are about 8,000 taxable homes in Juneau (by the assessor's estimate), our city stands to gain about $2.5 million on the current mill levy of 11.17 (probably more, given the low estimates).

What can be done? Trying to talk to the local assessors is like trying to make a rope stand on its tail. I think they pride themselves on their ability to withstand arguments about lowering tax rates. They have recent sales data to back up their side and sales data is hard evidence for them.

So, if you have a concern about the large increase in your assessment, I urge you to contact your friendly Assembly member. Perhaps the mill rate ought to be lowered a corresponding amount so that the city receives the same amount of tax. By my rough calculation, that mill rate ought to be about 9.7, given the above estimates. Otherwise, we need to monitor just how the Assembly plans to spend this windfall.

Steve Wolf


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