In 1986 senior citizens were leaving the borough in alarming numbers. Moving south or other boroughs, more welcoming of seniors and pleased to have them as part of their community.
Borough leaders and residents reacted by saying, you are our seniors, you built our borough and we want you to stay. That is when the Kenai Peninsula Borough enacted Ordinance 86-78 eliminating real estate taxes for seniors over age 65. The state had already recognized the senior contribution by enacting Statute 29.45.03 (e) exempting Alaska seniors from the first $150,000 of assessed valuation.
The impact of state and borough exemptions exceeded expectations. The senior migration reversed, not only did KPB seniors stay, but other Alaskan seniors built homes and retired in the KPB, which affectionately became known as “The Alaskan Riviera” for its beauty and climate. Seniors approaching retirement built new homes, remodeled existing homes and invested heavily into the Kenai Peninsula. They created jobs and are still a major contributor to the economic growth of the KPB.
In 2006 borough politicians decided the contribution of seniors was no longer needed. Twenty years of successful investment by seniors, now attacked by a new generation of politician.
The KPB politicians rushed to rescind the unlimited senior exemption and brought it to a vote under the guise of “vote yes for the senior exemption.” Mislead seniors and voters thought they were preserving the exemption, not raising taxes on many seniors.
The result? Seniors no longer trust the borough they helped build. Remodels that would exceed the new exemption limit dried up. New construction of homes over $300,000 virtually ceased. Since the 2007 assault on seniors the KPB has lost millions of dollars in revenue and several thousand jobs. The KPB forecast of massive additional tax revenues from seniors never materialized.
Now, Mayor Navarre, with Assembly members Smith and Johnson want to raise taxes on seniors again. After a successful, but misleading Ordinance to remove the senior unlimited exemption and an Ordinance to raise the general residential exemption to $50,000, they have turned on seniors once more, by trying to eliminate the eligibility of seniors for the $50,000 residential exemption.
They have they scheduled this Assembly vote on Ordinance 2013-36 for Jan. 7, 2014. Why this date?
Simple, they know many KPB Seniors will still be visiting family. Embarrassed for their constituents to see them attack seniors, they get deniability by saying “Sorry, you seniors should have been there”
If you are a senior, have relatives that are seniors, or plan on becoming a senior one day, please tell Mayor Navarre and the Assembly: vote no, stop assaulting seniors, leave their $350,000 total exemption alone and go about the important business of managing the KPB. Call, write or email, but let them know that you support the seniors of the KPB.
You are our friends, relatives, our children and grand children. Someday you will be us. We need your help and support.