Commercial property owners filed a torrent of appeals earlier this year after the city increased the base land value by 50% throughout the borough, triggering property tax increases for local business owners.
On Wednesday night, Jeff Rogers, finance director for the City and Borough of Juneau, told the city’s Finance Committee that 130 of 210 commercial property appeals had been closed and 80 appeals remain open.
Rogers said the Board of Equalization has not yet found in favor of an appellant and that four appellants are proceeding to the superior court in a quest to overturn this year’s tax assessment.
“It’s been challenging and has consumed a ton of resources on the city side and for appellants,” Rogers told committee members. “I understand that appellants are quite frustrated by the decisions of the BOE.”
Rogers explained that in an appeal, the burden of proof falls upon the appellant, who must prove the assessor made an error while assessing the parcel.
“The process is about finding and correcting errors. It’s not really about evaluating opinions,” Rogers said.
Rogers said that appeals move forward at a pace of about ten cases a week.
“I wish I could tell you when we would be done. We will keep moving,” Rogers said. “We won’t be done by the new year. Some of the cases are just very complicated.”
After a decade of relatively flat assessments, commercial property owners saw their property’s assessed valuation increase dramatically earlier this year after the city increased the base land value throughout the borough by 50% as part of the assessment.
Earlier this year, CBJ faced a record number of appeals over the process.
In prior meetings and interviews with the Empire, Rogers said the city used a mass appraisal model to determine the right assessment level. He said the model looked at available selling prices and compared them to assessed value. He said the assessor works with minimal data because buyers and sellers are not required to disclose sales data to the city.
Opponents contend that each section of town should be evaluated independently.
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