Tax exemption bill passed by House

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2007

A bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, has changed municipal property tax law.

The bipartisan House Bill 67, co-sponsored by Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, allows municipal governments to exempt law enforcement officers from paying some property taxes on their homes if they agree to move into high-crime neighborhoods.

The exemption is meant to reduce crime in those areas by allowing an exemption from taxes on up to $150,000 of assessed value. That’s equal to the state’s mandatory exemption afforded senior citizens and disabled veterans.

Under the law, municipalities would define what constituted a “high-crime” area, and what types of law enforcement officers would qualify.

The bill also creates a mandatory exemption on property owned by private, nonprofit four-year colleges, except that it would not apply to leaseholds on properties used for non-educational purposes.

This provision already applies to University of Alaska properties. HB 67 extends the provision to other colleges.

Another change is to allow an optional exemption from taxes for fraternal, 501(c)(8) or (10) organizations for certain properties used for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, or fraternal purposes.

The provision accounts for situations in many rural areas where facilities such as fraternal halls might be major meeting centers for community events.

“Each of these three changes serves a good public purpose,” Chenault said in a press release Wednesday.

“While we recognize that the municipalities are engaged in a delicate balancing act between the need to raise tax revenues while not overburdening property taxpayers, these exemptions are designed to encourage beneficial effects for the public.”

HB 67 has been sent to the Senate.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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