ANCHORAGE PROPERTY TAXES ARE HIGH ENOUGH
History: In October, 2015, the taxing majority on the Anchorage Assembly created a loophole in the property tax cap. The loophole allows the Muni to increase our property taxes dramatically. For someone who owns a home valued at $300,000, that means an additional $1,217 more per year in property taxes. Former Mayor Dan Sullivan is among the champions of Proposition 8, because he knows exactly where that loophole takes us as a community - down the drain.
That's not what the current mayor is telling you, however.
Last week, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said this to the Anchorage Assembly Finance Committee:
"We, like the private sector, are held hostage to the (Legislature's) failure to come to a resolution. There are decisions we can’t make because we don’t know what they are going to do.”
It's almost as though Ethan has selective memory and can't recall that the governor refused to cut the budget, and that the Legislature is a deliberative body that has been holding hearings and taking public testimony on all of the options, rather than simply accepting the governor's weak plan to tax and spend.
Last year, the Legislative majority made significant budget cuts -- but only as far as far as the Democratic minority would allow them -- and they must make even more this year.
But Berkowitz has become part of the peanut gallery, taking pot shots at those who must make the tough cuts. He ought to talk to his Democratic counterparts in the Legislature and tell them to get serious about downsizing to a state government we can afford.
But alas, Berkowitz piled on: "If it (Prop 8) passes it severely constrains our ability to give property tax relief."
Nonsense, says Assembly member Amy Demboski: "That's like a store that hikes prices up 80%, so they can give you a 30% discount. In either situation, you are paying more for the same product. The fact remains we aren’t spending less than last year. Berkowitz simply shifted millions of dollars around so it looks like they are spending less, and in fact raised property taxes $11.4 million in his first six months in office.
"This rhetoric is an attempt to confuse the fact that the liberal Assembly and Berkowitz administration busted the tax cap that has been in place for 30 years. It’s important to not be fooled by the rhetoric, and instead look at the record, and the record is clear: Berkowitz raised property taxes, in the operating budget alone, 4.3% in 2016. The only way to protect taxpayers, and hold politicians in line, is to vote yes on 8."
Our response: What she said.