Anchorage Property Taxes May Rise After Failed Veto Override

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature’s failure to override the governor’s veto of a school bond debt reimbursement could lead to an increase in Anchorage property taxes, officials said.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s veto shifts school bond debt onto local governments around Alaska, including about $21 million for Anchorage, KTUU-TV reported Friday.

Downtown Anchorage, Alaska. (Chris Marshall / CNS)

The bond debt was previously covered by the state, officials said.

“Making that up is just not possible within the existing budget, unless you want to see a huge reduction in the amount of services that are provided,” said Anchorage Municipal Chief of Staff Jason Bockenstedt.

Bockenstedt said the debt is an obligation from voter approval going back 20 years. To maintain the city’s AAA bond rating, the debt obligation must be met, with property taxes the most likely means of payment.

“Based on the numbers we know today, it looks like it’s probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-$60 per $100,000 of assessed value,” Bockenstedt said of the possible tax increase.

Final approval of the school district budget in April will determine the exact amount of the property tax increase, Bockenstedt said.

A moratorium from 2015 stopped the state from taking on new bond debt and an early version of last year’s operating budget dropped bond debt reimbursement similar to the governor’s veto, officials said.

Anchorage School Board President Starr Marsett said those factors affected the shape of bond packages.

“Between this year and next year we’re retiring about $112 million in bond debt, and so that is a lot less than what we’re asking for this year,” Marsett said. “And next year we’re not going to ask for a bond.”

School bond debt is set to go down next year, she said.

“We’re hoping this one-year hiatus will give a little break,” Marsett said. “Knowing that we have retired substantially more than we’re asking for in the two-year period.”

The district’s budget proposal is scheduled for consideration by the school board Tuesday, while the Anchorage Assembly is expected to see a revised proposal in March.

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