Property Tax Exemptions Asked by Mayor

Mar 28, 2019

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward says his email in-box filled up yesterday after local media reported on a resolution to change the way seniors and disabled veterans pay property taxes. The measure is on tonight’s borough assembly agenda.

The resolution would not change any laws, it is really more of a request to the legislature. Right now, state law requires municipalities collecting property taxes to exempt seniors over 65 and disabled veterans from paying property taxes on the first $150 thousand value of their house or land.

Asking for a change in state law won’t affect anyone’s property taxes this year.

“This does not remove the senior exemption here locally.”

But the mayor does want neighborhoods to be able to plow their snow and get their fires put out. Road services areas and fire service areas are neighborhood groups who tax themselves to pay for services.

“So, for instance, if you had a road service district where you had the entire district was nothing but senior citizens, they wouldn’t be able to tax themselves, under state law.”

Chief of Staff Jim Williams says that has happened in service districts where the mil rate for the non-exempt taxpayers jumped up, because they bore the greater burden to pay for fire departments, street lights and road repair.

The resolution at tonight’s assembly meeting asks the state to change the law so the tax exemptions are not mandatory.

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions on the senior exemption resolution, and what we’ve been telling folks is explaining the resolution is just requesting that the state remove the mandatory exemption language, so communities could be the ones to decide.”

Ward says he got so much email yesterday, his office put up a statement on the Borough’s Facebook page.

The State statute also says the state will reimburse the municipalities for the revenue lost by exempting seniors and disabled vets, but the state has not done that for 22 years. Ward would like the legislature to address that part of the law as well.