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Steep rise in Haines-area property assessments sets off howling

Some Haines Borough property owners are clamoring for an explanation after property assessments mailed last week showed valuation increases of as much as 800-plus percent. No explanation was offered along with the assessments, and even borough Mayor Stephanie Scott appears to be uncertain what's going on. But as the Chilkat Valley News explains, it has to do with a discrepancy in recent years between assessed valuations and actual sale prices of similar properties.

“There’s no explanation. You pick up your card in the mail and that’s it,” said Mike Erny, whose land value for his 24,000-square-foot parcel on Muncaster Road jumped from $47,050 to $77,900 between 2012 and 2013 – a 65 percent increase.

Don Turner, who owns an undeveloped 7.8-acre lot out Tanani Bay, saw his assessment skyrocket by 891 percent -- from $49,920 in 2012 to $445,200 this year. “My other properties have been raised, too, but this one is just crazy. I don’t know where they come up with their numbers. I’ve talked to quite a few people and their stuff has raised 200 to 300 percent,” Turner said.

Property owner John Shaw, whose undeveloped 4.6-acre parcel near 25 Mile increased from $32,000 to $102,000, said the increase seemed so arbitrary that “it’s almost like the assessor is spinning the roulette wheel.”

Assessed values in the Haines Borough rose by 18 percent overall.

Mayor Scott told the CVN that the borough had been "scrutinized" by the state property assessment division for some time after an audit showed its valuations had been lagging considerably behind apparent market values. The law requires rough equity between the two. 

The borough has invited property owners to appeal their assessments and says there's a chance the mill rate will be lowered in the wake of the increased valuations.