Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/25/1993 09:12 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN RANDY PHILLIPS introduced SB 102 (MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS) as the next order of business. RUPE ANDREWS, a member of the Capital City Task Force of the American Association of Retired Persons, stated their membership opposes SB 102. The legislation has a direct bearing on the economic security of older Alaskans. When the exemption was implemented over 30 years ago, it was the policy of the state to protect these seniors from losing their homes because they couldn't afford to pay the increased property taxes on them. Mr. Andrews said SB 102 is one of a number of bills this session that directly impacts the older seniors citizens of Alaska in reducing or eliminating a lot of benefits that they have been receiving from the state. It is a real concern to senior citizens in that it shows them that there has been either a dramatic change of state policy and legislative policy towards senior citizens or there is a lack of policy on the part of the Administration and the legislature. He urged that before the legislature takes action on some of these bills, that there be a dialogue or debate to spell out what the policy of the Alaska State Legislature, as well as the Administration, is and is going to be towards senior citizens. Number 230 "SHORTY" OLIVER, representing the American Legion, requested that the following letter from William R. Weber, Department Commander, to Representative Richard Foster, relating to HB 66 (MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS) be made part of the record: "The legislative processes of the House of Representatives and Senate committees move very quickly when word comes from the Governor. The information on HB 66 was only made public in Anchorage on last Wednesday. On Thursday I received a Fax from Rep. Ed willis concerning HB 66 which would repeal the local property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. Has the government of this great State of Alaska no compassion whatsoever for the old, and above all, the disabled veteran who have given a part of their lives and bodies to defend the great State of Alaska and America? Are the government leaders of Alaska in such a hurry to forget the good deeds that the old, and again, the disabled veterans have done for this great State of Alaska and the nation that still another gift must be taken away? I have no idea how many senior citizens there are in Alaska, but I do know that there are approximately 75,000 veterans and 40 American Legion Posts throughout Alaska. Speaking for these veterans, I must say please do not pass HB 66. One of our Past Department Commanders, Everett "Shorty" Oliver, will be asking to talk face-to-face with you on this matter. I hope you will make time for him to discuss this very important veteran issue." Mr. Oliver estimated that there are only two to three hundred disabled veterans in Alaska that are over 50 percent disabled, and he said they are the ones that are really going to be hurt by this legislation. Mr. Oliver urged that the committee vote against SB 102 and the House version of the legislation, HB 66. Number 260 CHAIRMAN RANDY PHILLIPS related that he has asked the Department of Community & Regional Affairs to provide a breakout on how much money it involves as it relates to disabled veterans. BRUCE GERAGHTY, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Community & Regional Affairs, said that statewide, disabled vets number 703, and the total property value of disabled veterans is $62 million. Those that qualify under the 50 percent for the exemption amount to approximately $1.1 million, and, of that, they are currently funding $230,000, which amounts to about eight percent for the disabled portion of the approximately $3 million program. In response to a question that Senator Taylor had raised at an earlier hearing as to the affect the bill would have on contributions to local school districts, Mr. Geraghty said as the bill is currently written, it would increase local contributions rather significantly in the population centers. It ranges from Anchorage being the top at $1.6 million down to about $470 in Nenana. He estimated the total would probably be close to $4 million. He noted that the House HESS committee had amended the House version of the legislation to exclude the school section. Mr. Geraghty related that right now the communities are picking up $11 million under the mandatory program. The Administration does not believe that mandating this exemption is a proper policy. They believe the exemption should exist on the local level, but they think that the local communities should address that issue locally. Number 480 KENT SWISHER, Executive Director, Alaska Municipal League, stated the League's support for SB 102, however, he outlined three suggested changes to the legislation: (1) require that the property tax exemption for seniors be approved by the voters at the local level; (2) provide the ability to allow deferrals as an alternative exemption, whereby the senior could defer property taxes until the home changes hands, at which time the local jurisdiction receives the property tax that it would have normally received; and (3) exempt the value of property optionally exempted under a local program to provide tax relief for senior citizens and disabled veterans from the full and true value determination prepared by DCRA. Number 527 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the League would favor granting the exemption on a needs basis. KENT SWISHER answered that the League does support it and believes it would be appropriate. He added that their ultimate preference, as a policy, would be that the program be fully funded at the state level. Number 555 CHAIRMAN RANDY PHILLIPS requested that Senator Taylor work with the people who had expressed concerns with the legislation, and said the legislation would be back before the committee the following week.