Borough mayor favors tax breaks for volunteers

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Volunteer firefighters and paramedics would receive a tax break on their property taxes under a plan being promoted by the borough mayor.

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles wants volunteer firefighters and paramedics to get a $10,000 property-tax exemption as a way to increase recruitment into those fields.

The exemption would be in addition to a $10,000 exemption already available to homeowners. For example, a firefighter or paramedic who lived in the city would save about $200 a year on a $100,000 house; those outside the city would save about $150.

Boyles told a group of lawmakers at a luncheon Tuesday that the measure would cost the borough $28,000 a year in lost revenue.

''We get back at least 10 times that in volunteer help,'' she said.

Tim Biggane, the borough emergency services director, said the borough has about 200 volunteer firefighters and paramedics. Each person volunteers at least 200 hours a year.

The idea needs the cooperation of the Alaska Legislature, which would need to set policy to allow the exemption. A bill already pending in the Legislature could pave the way for Boyles to initiate her measure.

Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, sponsored a bill this year to allow municipalities more freedom with property tax exemptions. His measure would let municipalities create property tax exemptions of up to $30,000.

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