Voters in the Mat-Su Borough will decide whether seniors and disabled veterans get an additional property tax break. The Mat-Su Borough Assembly this week voted to put the question before voters on the October ballot.
The change would add another $48,000 to the existing exemption of $170,000 of assessed home value already in place for those groups, according to Assembly member Ron Arvin.
Several seniors spoke out in favor of the change during the Assembly meeting.
The larger exemption would reduce property tax revenues to the borough by $2.4 million, Assistant Borough Manager George Hays told the group.
Assembly member Jim Sykes made an unsuccessful bid to raise the exemption incrementally over three years, citing the financial uncertainties to come in an already tight budget year. His was the only vote in favor of that proposal.
"The reality is we have lost probably over $1 million in income from airport tax, business inventory tax, and we don't have an accurate forecast of what we're going to get next year," Sykes said. "I'd rather take a conservative, cautious approach."
Arvin lashed out at the word "income" in his fellow Assembly member's comments, saying it was revenue.
"There's a presumption this shifts the tax burden to others, when in fact it is not an appropriate conclusion," he said. "The conclusion should be if this goes to the polls and passes that it will be incumbent upon this body then to reduce the cost of government to coincide with the amount of revenue."
The Assembly also approved an amendment that would adjust the exempted amount in coming years to reflect the average assessed home value in the borough, though borough attorney Nick Spiropoulos still needs to sign off on that language, borough clerk Lonnie McKechnie said Friday.
The exemption would apply to people 65 or older, disabled veterans including those who served in the Alaska Territorial Guard and widows or widowers of qualified groups who are at least 60.
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By ZAZ HOLLANDER