Anchorage Municipal e-Newsletter
January / 2011
With the city's property assessments hitting mailboxes and the Assembly debating whether to place a taxpayer protection charter amendment on the April ballot, this newsletter centers around keeping your hard-earned dollars in your pocket. Staff from across the city are working hard to implement efficiency measures that serve the public online rather than in line while saving the city (and you!) money. You'll hear much more from me in the coming months about how we're working smarter and making city government more efficient, a mandate we've repeatedly received from the public. Send any thoughts my way at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on facebook or twitter.
Mayor Sullivan supports Taxpayer Protection Act, encourages Assembly to place issue on the April ballot
I recently announced my support for the Taxpayer Protection Act, a proposal introduced by Assembly member Chris Birch that would amend the City Charter to clarify how the tax cap is calculated.
The tax cap was designed to protect taxpayers from potentially dramatic swings in taxation from year to year. The Taxpayer Protection Act ensures that the tax cap's original intent is maintained and citizens are protected from a government always looking for "more." I strongly urge Assembly members to allow this critically important issue to be decided by the voters who are at government's mercy when it comes to property taxes.
The tax cap was intended to limit how much property taxes could increase from one year to the next by using a "base" to calculate the next year tax cap. For 23 years the "base" was the amount of property taxes collected the prior year, which protected taxpayers against a dramatic upswing in taxes the next year.
In 2006, the previous administration changed how the tax cap was calculated by using a higher number for the base-the amount of property taxes that could have been collected instead of the amount actually collected. Using this higher number guaranteed a higher tax cap and exposed taxpayers to the potential of dramatic increases in property taxes, which was contrary to the tax cap's intent.
The Taxpayer Protection Act clearly states that the amount of taxes collected is the base for calculating the tax cap. This means that when the amount of property taxes to be collected is less than what is allowed under the tax cap, the lower amount is used as the base.
- From 1983 to 2005, the lower amount was used as the base.
- From 2006 - 2009, the higher amount that "could have been collected" was used as the base. During these years the tax cap was artificially inflated by $76 million.
- Now the lower amount is used to calculate the tax cap.
Mayor Sullivan with newly elected NAACP officers
Work of finding, implementing efficiencies continues
My administration has been laser focused on finding ways of doing business in a more cost effective manner. It makes sense to find efficiencies no matter what the city's finances are, but especially so in tough economic times.
One area of focus is to leverage our use of technology to improve our business processes. The city could do a much better job of delivering service to the public while reducing expenses by embracing available technology. We think it's better to serve the public online, rather than in line.
The folks in our IT and Development Services Departments have been busy and can report good results. For example, the public can view the city's Code Enforcement Tracking System online. Citizens are able to submit and track code violation complaints and stay informed about the status of a complaint as it moves through the system, 24-hours a day.
To date, the efficiency of this software and standardization of our business processes has increased our efficiency for code enforcement by 63 percent.
On January 3, we went live with the second phase of our online solution to deliver the Permitting, Inspections, and Licensing System, or PILS.
This system manages, tracks, and enhances delivery of building and related construction permits, plan review, inspection requests and results, and online payment activities for the city.
It will be used to manage the intake, routing, plan review, permit issuance, inspection requests and results, and certificates of occupancy for building and related construction permits.
Property values stable in 2011; new commercial construction down sharply
By now, you've probably received your annual "green card" from the city telling you your property's assessed value. City code requires property owners be notified no later than Jan. 15 of their property valuation each tax year. 2011 tax bills will be sent by May 15 after the Anchorage Assembly sets the tax rates.
Overall, Anchorage's property values are stable for 2011. However, some types of commercial property values have declined in value. This is attributed primarily to tightening credit markets, operating expense increases and fairly flat net operating income returns. For example, there has been a decline of 51 percent in commercial new construction from 2010, which provides an indication of the market for that type of property. Some individual property assessments will still increase (or decrease) if they've recently been visited by an inspector (rules require that property be inspected at least once every six years).
Mayor Dan and First Lady Lynnette with Boomer, the Alaska Aces' mascot.
Sen. Huggins, Rep. Stoltze, Lt. Gov. Treadwell, Nora Jones and Mayor Sullivan celebrate the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center's new car plug-ins.
- Jan 26
AEDC Economic Forecast Luncheon
- Jan 28
Work session re:
Taxpayer Protection Act
- Feb 1
Regular Assembly mtg.
- Feb 5
Challenge Alaska Charity Auction
632 West 6th Avenue, Anchorage Alaska 99501
Municipality of Anchorage | 632 W 6th Ave. | Anchorage | AK | 99501