Local News

Commercial property assessments going up

Ketchikan Gateway Borough commercial property assessments for 2013 will be done within the next 30 days, and the borough warns that the taxable value of some parcels will increase substantially.

“Preliminary figures — and I want to emphasize that they are preliminary; the assessments will not be completed for another 30 days or so — they indicate that roughly 18 percent of the 712 commercial parcels – and I’m talking only about the land, not the structures on the land – that 18 percent of those 712 parcels will increase by 50 percent or more in terms of the assessed value,” Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst said.

On the other end of the scale, Bockhorst said about 14 percent of commercial land will decrease in assessed value, some by as much as 30 percent.

During Monday’s Borough Assembly meeting, Bockhorst suggested a Jan. 21st presentation by the borough assessor to explain the changes.

Assembly Member Alan Bailey said he’s concerned about increasing taxes on local residents, and he will have questions.

“If there’s going to be an increase of 50 percent in personal valuations, I will hope that the assessor will bring very specific information as to why that is necessary and why that’s needed, or why that’s required,” he said. “I’m going to be looking at this extraordinarily closely.”

Bockhorst didn’t detail what properties might increase in assessed value, but he gave an example.

“There is waterfront commercial property in the central located area that has a lower assessed value than non-waterfront residential property,” he said. “If property is undervalued in a commercial sense, it is the residents who bear the burden of that consequence.”

Bockhorst said details will come before the Assembly when it meets as Board of Equalization.

Assembly Member Bill Rotecki said the subject is touchy, but it’s the borough’s job to keep assessments fair.

“So if someone’s property is undervalued, and someone else’s property is overvalued, then they’re not paying an equitable share,” he said. “In terms of the taxes going up: We set the rate. The assessor’s office is just trying to determine what fair market value is. That’s they’re job. Our job is to set the rate.”

The borough’s areawide property tax rate is 5 mills, and service areas outside of the city add their own fees to that rate. In addition to borough taxes, city residents pay 6.2 mills to the City of Ketchikan. The city’s mill rate is expected to increase by a half-mill in 2013.

One mill equals one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.

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