FAIRBANKS (AP) — Oil companies that own the trans-Alaska pipeline will have 30 days to appeal a State Assessment Review Board decision to set the value of the pipeline system at $10.2 billion.


The decision last week set a figure sharply higher than the $5.7 billion set by the state assessor.

Oil companies contend the system should be valued at $2.7 billion and municipalities such as the Fairbanks North Star Borough argued for $13.76 billion.

The decision can affect oil companies’ property tax bills by tens of millions per year, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The board decision drew strong interest after Gov. Sean Parnell dismissed the former board chairman, Marty McGee, the longtime Anchorage property tax assessor, and replaced him with a member with a lengthy career in the oil industry. Critics said the change could skew decisions in favor of the industry and reverse increases based on a court case that concluded the industry had historically undervalued the pipeline.

The board, however, chaired by James Mosley, a former oilfield worker, chose a figure closest to the one recommended by municipalities.

“The Board finds that the Municipalities have met their burden of proving that the assessment was improper and not in accordance with the standards of (state law),” Mosley wrote.

The board rejected the state assessor’s decision to use a 2009 study on pipeline value.

“More recent estimates of cost, based on actual quotes from vendors and research in the market, are preferable to trending forward old studies,” Mosely said.

Oil companies have appealed board assessments for eight consecutive years.

JUNEAU (AP) — The Juneau School District is safe, but two recent cases of students bringing guns to school are cause for concern, spokeswoman Kristin Bartlett said.

Bartlett said this would be a good time to review safety procedures to ensure schools are running regular drills and to make sure students and families understand the expectations for acceptable behavior at school. Drills are required for evacuations, earthquakes and lockdowns.

She also is compiling data to see if there has been an increase in the number of weapons brought to school, KTOO reported.

On May 17, police responded to a local middle school, where they say a 13-year-old brought a BB gun to detention. Last week, police arrested a 17-year-old boy accused of bringing a pistol to Thunder Mountain High School. No one was hurt in either instance.

Police Lt. Kris Sell said the BB gun was a replica of a real handgun. Another student told his mother, who contacted police. The boy could face reckless endangerment charges.

Sell cautioned against giving realistic-looking guns to kids unless adults are willing to accept the consequences.

“There’s just all kinds of problems kids can get into if they’re flashing what anybody would believe is a real gun. And the response to that either from an armed citizen or the police could just be really horrific,” Sell said.

It is illegal to bring a firearm into a school in Alaska. It’s a felony for adults who do so but a lesser charge for minors.

“I think that’s something that maybe from a lawmaking standpoint we need to think about changing in the future because most school shootings are by students with guns, not adults with guns,” Sell said.


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