Provided the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and voters approve, property taxpayers soon may enjoy an added measure of tax relief thanks to a bill passed by the Alaska House on Wednesday.
House members unanimously approved Senate Bill 136, introduced by Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, which boosts the current residential property tax exemption on the first $10,000 of assessed value to $20,000, effectively doubling the savings. The Senate unanimously approved the measure Monday.
Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, introduced an identical bill in the House, HB 241.
SB 136 is awaiting transmittal to Gov. Frank Murkowski for his signature.
"We fought hard to get this passed because it helps our constituents and gives some flexibility on taxing decisions to the Kenai Peninsula Borough," Chenault said Thursday in a prepared statement.
"Working together, Mike and I were able to change a 30-year-old law to provide this property tax relief for all of us," Wagoner said.
The measure, provided it is signed into law, would permit five municipalities that currently grant the $10,000 exemption to push that exemption to as high as $20,000. To implement the tax relief on the peninsula, the assembly would have to pass an ordinance allowing residents to vote to approve the increase. Putting even a tax exemption measure to a vote is required by state law, said Wagoner aide Mary Jackson.
The five municipalities affected are the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Bristol Bay Borough, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the North Slope Borough, and the city of Valdez.
As originally proposed, the Wagoner and Chenault bills had proposed an exemption of up to $50,000. That was later reduced to $20,000. However, that was better than no change, Jackson said.
"You take what you can a nickel at a time," she said.
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