I recently spoke at a borough meeting about increased assessments placing an undue burden on taxpayers when mill rates are left the same. I likened the situation to 20 years’ worth of tax increases in just three years. The assembly seemed unable to grasp the concept.

Spelled out, it looks like this: According to local real estate professionals, in a good economy, properties appreciate in value by roughly 2 percent per year. From 07-08, taxable (assessed) property values in the Haines Borough went up 11.19 percent.

In 08-09, they increased another 16.83 percent, and in 09-10 they increased another 11.74 percent. That totals out to a 39.76 percent increase in just three years.

Though the borough was pressed by the state to bring the assessments up, they were not obliged to leave the mill rate the same, and the expectation was, that they would decrease mill rates to compensate for increased tax revenues.

Remarkably, they actually did leave the townsite mill rate constant during that time, however, which means property owners saw their taxes increase by 39.76 percent in just three years. Forty percent (actual increased assessed values) divided by 2 percent (natural appreciation in a good economy) equals 20 years worth of tax increases in just three years.

One person attending urged the Assembly to increase mill rates, saying it was “good for the community.” Amidst a global recession with Main Street looking increasingly vacant and many locals struggling, I believe this is far from true. 

Ned Rozbicki