Wrangell’s borough assembly has levied property taxes for the upcoming year, keeping the rate the same as it has been for over a decade. It approved the levee at its Tuesday (May 24) meeting.
The borough projects it will take in roughly $1.79 million this year from the assessed $151 million in taxable property throughout the borough. That’s a $27 million drop in assessed value, and a $328,000 drop in projected revenue compared to last year.
Wrangell officials say that’s in large part due to the rising number of tax exemptions throughout the borough, with senior exemptions on $33.7 million of property this year. The borough also exempts other groups, like disabled veterans, from paying some property taxes.
Borough officials say the drop is also in part due to an inadvertent tax payment by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium last year. As a tribal non-profit, SEARHC wasn’t supposed to pay taxes on the hospital it owns and operates in the community.
SEARHC and the City & Borough of Wrangell recently reached an agreement exempting the consortium from paying property taxes on its holdings in the community. Under the 10-year agreement reached earlier this month, SEARHC will pay Wrangell’s government a $45,000 payment each year in lieu of taxes, and is exempted from property taxes on its current and future holdings.
While there aren’t major changes to Wrangell’s property taxes this year, borough officials say there’s a pretty large disparity in when properties throughout the community were last assessed. Some haven’t been re-assessed in decades.
Borough Manager Jeff Good told assembly members Tuesday evening that his goal is to have the entire town’s property value assessed before the next tax cycle, “So that everyone is set at an equal base,” he explained. “That’s kind of the whole goal of the assessments is we all should be equal, based on the type of properties we have. Right now, there are kind of a lot of disparities, so my goal next year would be to get accurate assessments for all of the properties in town, and then we’ll take a look at the mill rate at that point, to see where we need to be to keep everything the same as far as what the city is collecting in revenue.”
Wrangell’s mill rate – or the amount of property tax collected per assessed value of property – is 12.75 mills inside what’s called the borough’s “service area.” That’s more developed areas of the island on the road system, for the most part. Properties outside the “service area” but within the tax zone – like Meyers Chuck, Union Bay, some places out Spur Road, Olive Cove or Thom’s Place – pay 4 mills of property tax.
That means that an owner of a property assessed at $250,000 would pay $3,187.50 in taxes inside the service area, or $1,000 outside the service area. The vast majority of Wrangell’s property tax revenue comes from inside the service area, with only a projected $62,000 of the nearly $1.8 million coming from the greater borough.
Eighty percent of the revenue from Wrangell property taxes goes to the borough’s General Fund and 20% to a special fund for Wrangell’s schools.
Property taxes will be due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 15.
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