PALMER — At the Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting on Feb. 2, Borough Assessor Brad Pickett was called up by Manager Mike Brown to discuss the annual property appraisal report, as the noticed had been mailed out to borough residents just days prior. Pickett noted that assessed value of residential property had increased by 6.97 percent.
“Primarily we’re made up of residential property,” said Pickett. “We still have a significant amount of vacant land out there. We’ve got a lot of room for growth yet, 33,480 parcels are still vacant at this time so there’s a lot of room.”
Pickett first detailed the timeline of the process for determining taxability of the 79,431 parcels of land in the Mat-Su Borough. Of those, 41,580 are residential, 2,724 are commercial, and 1,647 are multi-family properties. The appraised value jumped nearly six percent to $14,415,283,195 with an assessed value of $10,786,692,46s in total. The taxable property value increases were shown with a 6.97 percent increase in residential value, 1.03 percent increase in commercial value and a 1.34 percent increase in multi family homes. Among the data presented in charts and graphs by Pickett, a comparison of appraised and assessed value dating back 20 years showed the longer term trends in growth.
“At no point did we go down in our appraised or assessed value but we’ve had steady growth and some of those years it was pretty high,” said Pickett. “We had a two percent increase in new single family homes added to the roll than what we had last year. I think that’s important because if you look at the other categories, our multi family was down significantly 51 percent from last year, for new construction our commercial was down 21 percent from last year, so again the residential is kind of carrying it this year but a significant increase.”
Of the tax exemptions given out by the Mat-Su Borough, the largest exemption is for senior citizens. Of the $3,686,074,313 in exemptions available this year, senior citizens account for over one third with $1,287,985,050. Exemptions increased by approximately $140 million from last year or four percent. Assemblywoman Stephanie Nowers was pleased to see that senior citizen discounts are more valuable than the exemptions for Mat-Su Borough owned properties, which came in second place at $1,149,300,300. The exemption for disabled veterans was third highest at $330,340,764 total. Pickett said that the appraised value of a single family home increased seven percent this year to $283,472. Last year, the value was $265,006 and increased four percent. Of the 58 commercial warehouse buildings constructed this year, nine have been for cannabis businesses.
“I think every year we’re getting a little bit better, we’re having fewer people actually formally appeal and fewer adjustments once we’re at the board.I think that speaks to the job that my folks are doing and they’re doing a great job resolving issues with the property owner as they come up. They’re not going all the way to the board and having a formal appeal,” said Pickett.
After notices were sent out on Jan. 28, borough taxpayers will have 30 days until Feb. 26 to appeal their appraised property values. After appeals are brought in, the appeal hearings themselves will begin on April 1 and the assessment roll will be certified on June 1 which determines how much property taxes will be in conjunction with the mill rate. Nowers asked Pickett about what he believed was causing the decrease in muti-family housing.
“We’ve been told that there’s almost no vacancies for multi-families this year. We’ve been told there’s a lot of folks coming from other areas that want to put their kids in our schools, whether this is what’s really changed I don’t know,” said Pickett. “Houses are selling just as soon as they get up there and there’s not enough supply for the demand.”
Pickett said that he had seen a figure where houses are averaging only 10 days on the market to sell, where he has typically seen that number up above 50. Deputy Mayor Tam Boeve said that she had received complaints from her constituents about increased taxes and asked Pickett for an answer as to why taxes were increasing in rural areas of the Valley.
“The average sales price even with what MLS is reporting, they’re up almost 10 percent this year from what they were last year. We’re seeing the same thing in our sales database and so it’s all property that’s residential we’re seeing that significant increase.”
Pickett encouraged taxpayers that have questions to contact the borough assessor’s office.