The Alaska Dog Mushers Association is asking for a tax break on its building, Mushers Hall, and trails along Farmers Loop Road under a community purpose exemption.
The club pays about $7,500 a year in property taxes on two properties, according to the club treasurer. Total annual club expenses are about $162,000, according to a 2019 profit and loss statement. ADMA ended the fiscal year in June in the red by $3,128.
The club maintains its own facilities, plowing the parking lot and grooming trails, that are made available to the public, club treasurer Magali Philip said. The trails are used by mushers, walkers, bikers and skiers.
“We figure we serve a community purpose,” Philip said. “The trails are open to anybody.”
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will decide whether to grant the exemption at its next regular meeting on Dec. 12.
Assemblywoman Marna Sanford sponsored an ordinance to grant the tax break, which said is well deserved.
“This is a whole huge group of trails that the borough doesn’t have to fund that is right in the heart of town,” Sanford said. “We are blessed to have community members who are willing to do this.”
The mushing club, founded in 1949, hosts multiple annual races including the Open North American Sled Dog Championships in downtown Fairbanks. 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the race.
Philip said finances are not dire. “We make it,” she said. The club earns a $400 monthly income from a cell tower on its property. But she is looking ahead. In the next few years, the Mushers Hall will need a new roof.
“It’s a landmark in Fairbanks,” she said of the building. Members of the Creamer family, which owned an adjacent dairy that is now a wildlife refuge, deeded the property to the mushing club for $10 in 1965 and 1967, Philip said.
The club has fallen on hard times in past years and closed the Mushers Hall during the winter months.
The community purpose exemption is granted infrequently. Acting Borough Assessor Brad Acord said in an email that the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center has the exemption along with the Fairbanks Drama Association & Fairbanks Children’s Theatre Inc.
Other nonprofits that don’t pay property taxes to the borough include the Tanana Valley Sportsmen’s Association, Tanana Valley State Fair Association, Fairbanks Alano Club and the community center at Raven Landing.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.