Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

Assembly turns down tax exemption

JUNEAU The Assembly Finance Committee on Wednesday turned down a proposal to establish a residential property tax exemption in Juneau.

Assembly member Marc Wheeler requested the committee consider a so-called "homestead exemption," which is in place in Fairbanks, Kenai and Valdez. "It would be a benefit for the little guy and the small homeowners," he said.

The change would have exempted the smaller of $10,000 or 25 percent of residential property from city taxes. It would cost the city $873,000 in property tax revenue, according to city Finance Director Craig Duncan. The city would have needed to raise the mill rate by 0.34 to break even, he said.

Mayor Sally Smith compared the tax break to a social program.

"I'd really like if we could do this ... but is it worth the mill levy going up or finding $900,000 in services to reduce?" she said.

The proposal failed on a 6-3 vote with Wheeler, Frankie Pillifant and Jim Powell voting in support. Smith, Dale Anderson, Don Etheridge, Ken Koelsch, John MacKinnon and Cathy Mu-oz voted no.

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