Valuations of land in downtown Haines dropped this year, though contract assessor Marty McGee said that doesn’t mean the land is necessarily decreasing in value.

According to the recently released 2014 tax rolls, land assessments for several large downtown properties dropped by more than 50 percent from 2013 levels.

McGee said the reductions were more the result of correcting previously overinflated assessments.

“I’m not saying that the value has decreased, really. I know that is the observed fact, but that is not the point,” McGee said. “I think some of them got overvalued during the historic piecemealed process that was used.”

The assessment on the lot under the former Coliseum Building dropped from $164,600 to $83,300 this year. The building and property are owned by Gross Alaska Inc.

The lot occupied by the L.A.B. Flying Service building, owned by Layton Bennett, decreased from $64,100 to $30,000.

The Ellingen building lot, owned by Loyd King, dropped to $30,000 this year, from $63,800 in 2013. The former Elks Lodge lot also dropped from $172,000 to $82,300.

The values of the buildings on the lots stayed the same.

However, McGee said taking a closer look at the buildings is next on his agenda.

“That is next year’s project. I didn’t have enough time to do the work I needed to do on commercial buildings. I basically reviewed what was there, thought it was acceptable for this year’s use, and will look at it next year,” he said.

McGee said he intends to use an income approach analysis to determine the value of the commercial buildings downtown, which includes looking at what kind of rent the structures could produce and what kind of demand exists for the buildings.

McGee said when he reviewed the borough’s files and assessments from previous years, he found similar downtown lots valued at extremely differing rates. Some land was valued at $10 per square foot, some at $2.

“The way they were valued and assigned had no particular pattern to their location, size or attributions of the individual lots,” McGee said.

McGee said he looked at what other downtown lots have sold for in the past, and used those sales to determine lot values, including sale of the future site of the Aspen Hotel. The 1.2-acres of downtown property sold to the hotel chain for $215,000, or a little more than $4 per square foot.

McGee also said the land values are lower because of a lack of development. “In your town what you see is these buildings are sitting there for a long time and there is no new development or change,” he said.

 “I think they are accurate in terms of that is really what it is worth,” McGee said of the land valuations. 

The 2014 rolls won’t be certified until after the appeals process concludes.