The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for the April 2 election to the Anchorage Assembly to answer a series of questions on issues facing those bodies. We’re publishing select responses daily. The answers were fact-checked when facts were cited and edited for spelling, grammar and writing style. For more questions and to see all the candidates’ answers, click here. For School Board candidate surveys, click here.
Q: Overall taxation in Anchorage is....too low? Too high? Just right? Explain. If taxes are too high, what would you cut? If taxes are too low, what would you raise?
DISTRICT 2, SEAT A: CHUGIAK-EAGLE RIVER
The current level of funding has been adequate. According to Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski, the cuts [proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy] to the Anchorage School District alone would cost the average Anchorage property owner over $14,000 per year to fill the budget gap. As a city, we will need to budget responsibly and eliminate inefficiencies but the probable outcome to continue to fund critical services would be to find new revenue sources.
In my district I never hear that taxes are too low. Most taxpayers will tell you they are too high and some, particularly those on a fixed retirement income or those living on a large old homestead, recognize that it actually negatively impacts their ability to keep their home and their current lifestyle. If any new taxes are implemented it should only be by voter approval.
DISTRICT 4, SEAT F: MIDTOWN
Anchorage property owners shoulder the burden of funding the majority of our city’s government. Considering the fact that there are currently very few other revenue sources for our city, and there is decreased state funding, we must look for opportunities to diversify our revenue sources and respect the property tax gap, while ensuring other user groups pay their fair share for city services.
There is always an impetus to push taxes higher to feed government spending. We have a tax cap and attempts to sidestep it must be fought.
Too high for the services we receive. Real Estate taxes.
DISTRICT 3, SEAT D: WEST ANCHORAGE
While I do support the tax cap to increase trust in government, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to increase revenue in order to provide essential services. I am generally not a fan of taxes, however I do think we need to explore revenue sources for Anchorage especially during this time when our state budget is so constrained.
See the above responses. Taxes are too high and the city and school district need to be more efficient. Department audits need to be reviewed and addressed.
DISTRICT 5, SEAT H: EAST ANCHORAGE
Everyone would like lower taxes, and we have taken steps like increasing residential property tax exemptions to see that the burden does not fall too heavily on one group. The ML&P sale will help as well, because revenues can be used to retire debt and increase the trust fund, offsetting some property taxes. At the same time, I supported the motor fuels tax to diversify revenues, and I support the alcohol tax because it will fund programs targeting homelessness and substance abuse.
DISTRICT 6, SEAT J: SOUTH ANCHORAGE, GIRDWOOD, TURNAGAIN ARM
A typical homeowner might pay $5,000 per year in property taxes. That’s less than 1/2 what it costs to educate the average student at ASD. So a family with a child in school gets a bargain. People with high value homes worried about crime, with no kids at home and those paying property tax on commercial properties, might well think they pay more than the value they get. The three budgets I have worked on have made significant cuts throughout the city to move money toward rebuilding the police force.