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Assembly members Merrill Sanford, Bob Doll, David Stone, Johan Dybdahl and Jonathan Anderson deserve a big thank-you for their courageous vote to retain the senior sales tax exemption.
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This is a big win for seniors, but seniors cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They need to put Randy Wanamaker, Bruce Botelho, Daniel Peterson and Jeff Bush on notice that their days on the Assembly, or any other elected body, are numbered since it was stated that this issue will continue to come up in future years. When candidates file to run in August and are before the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and other various bodies campaigning this fall, folks supportive of Juneau's senior community need to require candidates to state categorically whether they will support continued retention of the senior sales tax exemption.
Now that the sales tax exemption is decided, our Assembly needs to take a serious look at lowering the mill rate. Property assessments at the Parkshore Homeowners Association jumped by as much as 32 percent this spring, and I am well aware that valuations increased considerably all across the city. There are many seniors living at the Parkshore who retired 10-15 years ago on very fixed incomes whose primary residences were pretty much exempt from property tax assessments up until this year because they were assessed at or near the $150,000 property tax exemption. But the 32 percent jump means some are faced with paying about $600 in property taxes this September unless the mill rate is lowered. This will mean some long-retired folks, living on fixed incomes, may be forced to choose between filling prescriptions, eating a balanced diet or paying the increased property taxes.
Senior citizens built Juneau and contributed their whole working lives. The rest of us need to be committed to keeping taxes down, so that our seniors, who have chosen to live here, can live out their retirements without worrying about what the Juneau Assembly is going to pile on them in the way of added taxation. We need an Assembly that can live within its means and won't try to balance its bloated budget on the backs of seniors.
Edith E. McHenry