At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn't necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Opinion: Assessment needs additional oversight

  • By Greg Adler
  • Friday, February 3, 2023 1:53pm
  • Opinion

A win in dealing with City and Borough of Juneau is when both sides feel they have been treated fairly.

A loss is when both sides feel they lost.

The CBJ has had a reckless assessor’s office and imposes its will through a process of methodology, hearings and legal maneuvering. So many are complicit in pushing this self-aggrandizing agenda it is mind-boggling.

The CBJ has refused to provide me with the amounts they have spent litigating these issues, but I suspect it is more than most people make in a year.

The assessor’s office’s behavior will not stop because the players have no intention of stopping it. Their method is to slip the same practices through the legislative process without the benefit of transparency and open discussion. The assessor’s office must be placed under citizen oversight, hearing officer or court supervision to develop fair methodology to assess property. That’s where this is headed.

A house-cleaning with removal of the CBJ players who push their self-aggrandizing agendas is recommended by me. They have been in power too long and it’s gone to their heads. Their reckless scheme to over-assess property exists and it’s incontrovertible if the past foretells the present, they will a slip an ordinance in to crush commercial property owners or whomever they chose to attack with deep pockets. The city manager and finance director require oversight. They have squandered obscene amounts of CBJ money and citizens money that could have gone into the local economy and instead went to outside attorneys. They know how to play this ruthless game. For them it’s a game and not their money. For us it’s our livelihood. They have refused my requests for information for far too long. Their reckless actions do not square by hiding behind the power of City Hall.

In our case, I made the following requests a very long time ago with several follow-up letters wondering when a response would be coming:

■ All CBJ legal costs to defend lawsuits including extra staffing in the city attorney’s office.

■ An appointment to review our assessor files.

■ Mileage awards/benefits to CBJ staffers when they use a city credit card.

The city manager, finance director and assessor concocted a scheme to raise money from commercial property owners to finance their pet projects. If an MAI appraiser, independent auditor, hearing officer or citizen’s committee reviewed assessed values they would determine assessed values are wildly high and that CBJ uses these artificial assessed values to support borrowing for pet projects.

Watch out because the CBJ pied piper is still pushing for his pet projects.

One day, the CBJ Pied Piper will be gone and taxpayers will not have to pay the piper any longer.

• Greg Adler is a principal in the Goldstein Improvement Co. His family has owned property and conducted business in Juneau since the 1880s. Adler and his family also own a home on Pioneer Avenue in West Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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