Tax cap foes winning fund-raising race

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The campaign against the statewide property tax has raised nearly $240,000, about 16 times as much as the initiative's backers, according to reports submitted to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Proposition 4 would cap municipal property taxes across Alaska at 1 percent of a property's value. It would also prevent tax assessments from rising more than 2 percent a year until the property is sold, when it is reassessed.

The measure would take about $55 million from the Anchorage city and School District annual budgets and save the owner of an average home in Anchorage, assessed at $160,600, about $640 in the first year.

''We probably have a little better case to present than they do,'' Ernie Hall, chairman of Alaskans United Against the Cap, said Monday.

Jim Crawford, chairman of Tax Cap Yes, said the fund-raising disparity isn't surprising.

''Our troops don't have a lot of money,'' he said. ''They don't own the Chamber of Commerce. They don't own the Anchorage Daily News.''

Among the contributors to the anti-cap group are labor organizations, including those representing Anchorage police and teachers. Unions gave about $40,000 of the total. Other contributors to Alaskans United include acting Anchorage schools superintendent Carol Comeau, former Republican state Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski, the Alaska Library Association and the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.

The biggest anti-cap contribution was from Valdez Petroleum Terminal, owned by Arctic Slope Regional Corp., which gave $30,000.

In all, Alaskans United received more than 500 contributions.

The largest contribution to Tax Cap Yes was $5,000 from The Birchwood Corp., a real estate development company owned by Hickel Investment Co. Other contributors include Spinell Homes and former Anchorage Assemblyman Bob Bell. The group took in a total of 126 monetary contributions.

Campaigns trying to influence the outcome of a ballot proposition can accept contributions from corporations and aren't subject to the $500 limit per contributor that applies to candidates for office. The reports submitted Monday, 30 days before the election, were the first time state ballot-measure groups have had to disclose their finances this year.

Crawford, owner of City Mortgage, has argued that the tax cap will make it easier for people to buy homes and thus will be good for the real estate industry. Others in the industry said the cap would erode services, lower the quality of life and make it harder to sell homes.

Real estate agents, title companies and the Alaska Association of Realtors gave about $6,000 to Alaskans United Against the Cap.

''I think they've been sucked in by the doom and gloom, apparently,'' Crawford said.

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