FAIRBANKS — Borough Assembly members are scheduled to vote on an ordinance Thursday that could ease the tax burden on financially challenged property owners.
Assemblyman Matt Want has proposed three changes to the borough tax code: extending the property foreclosure redemption period by a year, making the residential property tax exemption available to those with delinquencies and deferring property tax payments for those who meet poverty line criteria and have lived in their homes for 10 years.
“It’s not that they don’t have to pay, it’s just that it puts it on hold,” he said of his proposals.
Want said the ordinance is aimed at helping people who face financial hardship.
“This could really benefit some people in the community,” he said.
Mayor Luke Hopkins expressed his concerns in an eight-page memo to Want.
Hopkins said he is concerned that passage of the ordinance would create a different workload for borough employees — creating evaluations for poverty levels, modifying other borough codes and keeping track of deferments over time.
He said the deferments could mean less money for the borough. He wonders if the amendments would create a larger tax burden for individuals who can afford their property tax payments, depending on how many people apply for the deferments.
Hopkins said the assembly could create a “leaner, simpler program” by cutting out some of the ordinance.
If assembly members pass the ordinance, Hopkins said he hopes they will extend its effective date so borough employees have enough time to program the evaluations and systems to keep track of deferments.
Hopkins said additional questions remain about the proposed ordinance.
Want said some of the mayor’s concerns are valid and he is willing to answer questions from the public before or at the assembly meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.
“I believe the benefits outweigh the concerns,” he said.
Want’s contact information can be found at the Borough Assembly’s website (www.co.fairbanks.ak.us/assembly/).