Appeals board upholds most Canary valuations


Members of the Haines Borough Assembly acting as the Board of Equalization (BOE) May 21 slogged through the second round of appeals for nearly four hours, tackling 14 cases of Haines residents unsatisfied with their 2013 property assessments.

The board struggled to come to consensus several times, as only four board members were present, the minimum number required to take action. Members Dave Berry and Joanne Waterman were absent.

The board largely voted to uphold contract assessor James Canary’s assessments, but lowered assessments of three properties, including a Skyline Drive property owned by Paul Nelson, a Glacier View subdivision lot owned by Burl Sheldon, and a Mud Bay Road property owned by the Kochu Cove Trust.

Nelson, Sheldon’s wife Nancy Berland, and Kochu Trust representatives were the only appellants to make their case in person. One appellant appeared telephonically.

Trustee Linn Asper and trust member Tim June spoke on behalf of the trust, claiming Canary’s $557,600 valuation of the approximately 80-acre property was excessive, unequal to similar properties, and assessed improperly.

June said 50 to 60 percent of the 80 acres is undevelopable wetland, and sale of a similar property – the 64-acre Mulford parcel for $1 million – couldn’t be used to establish a fair market value standard, as the Mulford parcel was an inter-family transaction.

June also pointed to a chart illustrating the price per acre for other large parcels in the borough; it showed the Kochu Trust land as the most expensive, at $7,002 an acre.

June requested the board value the property at $278,740.

Canary argued that he walked the Kochu Trust land and didn’t see the large amount of wetlands June had cited, and that the chart provided by June was misleading, as large parcels in different areas aren’t comparable.

“You’re really not looking at true comparisons, because there’s not another 80-acre site within this location. Other properties out at 33 Mile are run at a different rate, and they’re not waterfront.... They might be similar in size, but they’re not run under the same formula,” Canary said.

Board member Steve Vick moved to value the property at $400,000, but the motion failed. The board eventually agreed to value the property at $4,900 an acre, or about $392,000.

Paul Nelson appealed four properties, three on Skyline Drive and one on the Haines Highway, but only got the board to budge on one of the Skyline properties. The board lowered the assessment from $77,800 to $74,530.

Nancy Berland, presenting on behalf of her husband Burl Sheldon, said access to the couple’s undeveloped lot in the Glacier View subdivision was nearly impossible, and that the property was valued at a much higher rate than nearby lots. She requested the assessment be lowered from $42,100 to $32,000.

It took much discussion and three motions to come to a consensus on the Sheldon property: a motion to uphold the assessor’s valuation made by board member Jerry Lapp failed, while a subsequent motion by Vick to set the value at $37,500 also failed.

Board member Debra Schnabel, in an attempt to get the board to agree, threw out a $40,000 figure, which finally stuck. “I’m trying to find a compromised place where we might all sit,” Schnabel said.

In addition to Nelson’s three unchanged properties, the board upheld Canary’s original or revised assessments for properties belonging to Robert Harris, Edward Beitner, Neil Tierney, Jeff and Ann McEntire, Jack Smith Jr., Robert Reid, Todd Sherman and Coy Allen Taylor.

The board also eventually agreed, after two failed motions, to reject seven appeals filed after the deadline.

Of the 420 or so appeals filed this year, about 130 still need to be worked through and will necessitate a third BOE hearing in June, Canary said.

The third BOE hearing will be held 6 p.m. June 18. 


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