Here’s Lynn Willis on Superior Court Judge William Carey’s ruling that says local boroughs and municipalities are not required to pay a specific percentage of what they collect in taxes to pay for local school funding. Carey ruled that such mandates act like a “dedicated fund,” which are unconstitutional. During the campaign, Gov.-elect Bill Walker said that he supported the Ketchikan lawsuit that challenged the local funding mandate:
Regarding the school tax decision, I appreciate Bill Walker’s support of this litigation if his intention was to have this court decision finally force the issue the ability for large portions of Alaska to refuse to form local taxing authorities. John Havelock’s commentary in the ADN published today (25 Nov) speaks to this issue.
What is the motivation to form a local taxing authority when the Alaska Constitution actually discourages such action in Article 10 (Local Government) Section 6 ( Unorganized Boroughs) which states:
“The legislature shall provide for the performance of services it deems necessary or advisable in the unorganized boroughs, allowing for maximum local participation and responsibility. It may exercise any power or function in an unorganized borough which the assembly may exercise in an organized borough.”
Currently approximately half of my Anchorage property taxes are dedicated to fund local schools.
Of course I would like to see a property tax reduction as a result of this court decision yet I understand with our pending fiscal crisis that option is unlikely. Now if the state assumes its’ constitutional authority to fund schools per Article 7 Section 1, shouldn’t that almost double the amount of money available for local expenses and wouldn’t my property taxes be able to offset the pending loss of state revenue sharing funds?
As an alternative, how about we start now to seek alternate local revenues from a broader payer base? We know how of how much property tax revenue we actually spend on City/Municipal services. Why not have a debate about lowering property taxes to reflect the impact of this court decision yet consider making up the loss of State revenue sharing and perhaps future bond payments by use of a local sales tax?