The assessment's too darn high

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I recently discussed my outrageous annual property tax assessment increase of $30,000 with a real estate appraiser in the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Assessor's office. I was informed that over 60,000 properties are out there to be assessed by an office of just six real estate appraisers assigned by the Borough's department. Therefore, it is impossible to visit and assess all properties here annually. Logistically, it makes sense.

In light of this heavy load carried by the Borough's real estate appraisers, I find it interesting that my property is assessed every year while so many others are ignored, and that my property's tax assessment value has increased by $30,000 this year, and cumulatively in five years by over $80,000. My property resale value over this time period has not increased by nearly that amount.

In my research, my neighbors, some being Borough employees, have not had an assessment or an increase in property value in the five-year history available on the Borough Assessor's website. It's super fascinating to me that I've personally witnessed visible improvements to a property owned by a Borough employee that no one could miss -- a two car garage and a second story addition. Five-year real estate assessment history increases on that property? One. And their assessed value was lowered.

So all I've asked for is an explanation about why my property has been assessed every single year since we bought it in 2005, when no real improvements have been made (I even lost a building when the roof caved in from heavy snow), when there are such limited resources available to assess and appraise the 60,000-plus other properties here.

My research also indicates that more than one Borough employee home, where additions have transpired and are very visible, have not seen increases in "market value" real property assessments or taxes in several years.

My home, however, has increased in assessed value by more than it's worth since 2005, during a declining real estate market, despite the fact that no additions have occurred. Again, the Borough's assessed market value is now more than I paid for my home six years ago.

Short of finding it corrupt and criminally insane, I find it offensive. If it's happening to me, then it's happening to other people here, too.

I propose that every Borough employee's home be assessed yearly, like mine, with subsequent arbitrary increases that have nothing to do with market value in this Borough, like mine, during this economic downturn.

I don't know about you, but I didn't move here to live in a community with entitlement programs for tax breaks for senior citizens who do not pay property taxes that I am expected to cover. I think it's discrimination, and I'm inclined to bail out of here and let someone else pay the tax increases.

Taryn Armstrong, Soldotna

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