Borough assembly extends tax protection to property owners

Posted: Monday, May 08, 2000

KOTZEBUE (AP) -- Property owners in the Northwest Arctic Borough will be getting the same tax protection already enjoyed by the mining industry.

The Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly has passed an ordinance prohibiting itself from taxing personal property in the borough, as long as the mining industry remains exempt from taxation.

Cominco Alaska, operators of the Red Dog Mine, 90 miles north of Kotzebue, have a financial agreement with the borough instead of paying taxes.

The assembly decided in March to amend the borough's code to exempt residents from paying property taxes after a bonding initiative to pay for school construction was approved by voters in February.

A majority of borough voters approved the $100 million in general obligation bonds to pay for educational capital improvements. Kotzebue voters were the only ones to go against it. Nancy Galstad, Kotzebue's city manager, said it failed to win support out of fear that property taxes would be introduced to pay back the bonds.

The assembly said the bonds would allow the district to complete all of the needed school improvements in the next six years, instead of waiting for the state to fund them.

The borough has pledged to repay the bonds through every method short of taxing property owners. It expects the bonds to be repaid over a 20-year period through contributions from private businesses and the state.

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