Property tax measure trailing

A slim majority of voters were saying no to Ballot Measure 1, an initiative dealing with local property taxes.

With 428 of 438 precincts counted statewide, the measure was failing, with 51,370 (49.4 percent) voting yes and 52,518 (50.5 percent) voting no.

The initiative would allow local governments to exempt the first $50,000 worth of a homeowner's property from taxes. Current state law says local governments, with voter approval, may exempt up to $20,000 of the value of owner-occupied housing from property taxes.

The initiative was the brainchild of some Fairbanks civic leaders, including former North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker. Whitaker said he wanted to reduce property taxes for homeowners even if businesses would have to pay more to make up the difference.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and city assessor Marty McGee opposed the initiative. Increasing the exemption to $50,000 would benefit some homeowners. But landlords, owners of the least expensive housing, and businesses would pay more, McGee said.

Anchorage Daily News /