As I listened to candidate responses at the Thursday Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, I was taken aback by one of the answers given by Karen Crane.
The question was whether she supported repeal of the State mandated property tax relief on the first $150,000 of value on the primary residence for Alaska’s senior citizens. This mandate has been required in statute since the early 1980s, and originally contained a rebate to local governments. The rebate was discontinued during one of Alaska’s economic downturns. However, the original intent of the Legislature to recognize the lifetime contributions of seniors, and at the same time to provide incentives for them to remain in Alaska after retirement, did not change.
Ms. Crane responded that neither she nor the CBJ Assembly had supported such a repeal. Yet at the same forum, she touted her leadership experience as former president of the Alaska Municipal League, which wants the exemption repealed. I also served on the board of directors and as state president of the Alaska Municipal League, and I know firsthand that both AML policy and consistent lobbying efforts to repeal this law have not changed over the years. In fact, they have intensified. I also know from personal experience that the AML president is obligated to support the contents of the policy manual, and to testify before the Legislature in support of that policy when the opportunity presents itself.
Ms. Crane cannot have it both ways – and even if this statute was changed to make the property tax mandate optional for local jurisdictions, given the recent record of this Assembly on senior issues I would remain very concerned about her commitment to keeping our community as affordable as possible for seniors.