A fore sale sign hangs outside of a Juneau residence. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

A fore sale sign hangs outside of a Juneau residence. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Voting yes on Prop 4 is a vote to keep financial info private

Were prior assessors just smarter?

  • By Debbie White
  • Wednesday, September 14, 2022 10:00am
  • Opinion

I’ve tried to keep my name out of the spotlight, but I cannot keep quiet any longer. My apologies to my husband and family. I’ve read plenty of letters in opposition to repeal of the ordinance (Proposition 4) but the one written by Eric Kueffner, the spouse of CBJ Assembly member and Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski, printed on Sept. 14, is the one who finally pushed me to write this letter.

[Opinion: I’m voting no on Prop 4 because I’m in favor of truth and fairness]

The Alaska State Constitution, Article 1, Section 22 states: “The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed. The legislature shall implement this section.” This right to privacy has been the basis for our non-disclosure status, but it’s also been used to protect privacy within the home for marijuana use as well as the right to terminate a pregnancy by abortion.

The assessor’s office has much more information available to them than any assessor’s office in the past. Thanks to the internet, they can see lots of full color photos of the inside, and outside, and read a nearly unlimited description of the property. The address, and days the property has been on the market, are readily available.

Were prior assessors just smarter? They would have to scour local newspaper ads that were pay-by-the-word, that may or may not include a small photo, hardly ever included an address, drive around and look for signs, walk neighborhoods, show up at open houses on the weekends, and convince people to give them the information. They charted each property that came on the market, estimating the actual days the property was listed, and collected data when provided (usually when they over-estimated the value). They would visit the permit center and pull property records (now this information is also available online). They also had actual fee appraisal experience, not just membership in an association.

Nearly every jurisdiction with property sales price disclosure requirements has a transfer tax. https://www.landcan.org/pdfs/StateTransferTaxChart.pdf There is nothing indicating that we will not. In fact, an employee of another community’s assessor’s office got quite active on a Facebook discussion advocating for a no vote on Proposition 4. Why would another community care what Juneau does? The simple answer is that this is a statewide issue. Everyone is watching Juneau.

When this ordinance was passed, there was very little public discussion. All meetings were virtual, and there really wasn’t much conversation. While it may have met the legal requirements of the process, the fact is it’s a lot easier to ignore dissension when you don’t have to look opposition in the eye.

The current disclosure policy is to provide CBJ with all the details of the transaction. When compliance was low, a $50 per day fine was imposed. If you fail to give your financial information to CBJ they will put a lien on your home. Take a look at the form for yourself, https://tinyurl.com/5x5sa939

A yes vote is a vote to keep your financial information private.

• Debbie White is broker/owner of Southeast Alaska Real Estate and has been a Realtor since 1999. She was a member of the CBJ Assembly from 2014-2017. Prior to that she spent 6 years on the Board of Equalization. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have somethincg to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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