Opinion: My Turn was right on the money

While I’ve never met Mr. Adler I share his concerns.

  • By Bruce Abel
  • Thursday, November 17, 2022 4:26pm
  • Opinion

Greg Adler’s My Trun in the Nov. 16, 2022, Empire resonated with me. While I’ve never met Mr. Adler I share his concerns. I too am at a loss as to how to respond to the undated letter from the Office of the Assessor which gives me 15 days to provide financial information on my businesses. I have provided the requested financial information to the assessor recently, but in a property tax appeal hearing the city assessor elected to disregarded my financials. Apparently, my actual financial statement numbers supported my appeal but did not support the CBJ Assessment and was therefore rejected. How is any commercial property owner expected to trust that supplying this information will be accepted and applied if it doesn’t fit the assessor’s assessment model? I share Mr. Adler’s frustration and I can’t think of a better way to exemplify the CBJ’s duplicitous behavior toward commercial property owners than sending a time-sensitive demand letter with no start date. What a wonderful way to tell the Assembly that commercial property owners are uncooperative.

When a property owner has a disagreement on their property’s assessed value there is an appeal process via the Board of Equalization. The BOE is supposed to be neutral. But when the assessor, through omissions of truth, manipulation of data and failure to follow any recognized standard rules of assessment is untethered from nationally accepted assessment standards, then the appellant is in an unwindable situation. The game is rigged in the CBJ’s favor allowing the city to ratchet up property tax revenue without a tie to reality. The net result of these inflated assessments is increasing rent, food and fuel prices for everyone. It also stagnates community growth and development. Developers and investors need regulatory stability and a return on investment to green light projects, something the City and Brough of Juneau leadership either doesn’t care about or doesn’t understand. Without growth our community withers and can’t provide affordable housing, jobs or support our schools.

These issues have been raised repeatedly and city management knows there is a problem in the assessors’ office. If you weren’t aware, currently the city is involved in multiple lawsuits over commercial property assessments. That should sound an alarm with the Assembly and the public. The city leadership was offered the opportunity to combine these cases, which would have saved the city and the litigants substantial amounts of time and money, but instead city leadership decided to fight every case individually. Why would the city choose to go to court? Why would the city choose to fight the cases instead of a combined single case? I would guess the city expected many of the property owners to drop their cases because of the considerable expense. Instead, it’s galvanized the resolve of all those involved. If we don’t end the city’s war on tax payers and create a fair, predictable and equitable assessment standard Juneau will continue to become less and less affordable, locally owned businesses will become rare and city government will collapse under its own weight.

• Bruce Abel has Master of Business Administration degree from Gonzaga University and currently owns and operates five Juneau businesses spanning retail, commercial and residential rental properties. 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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