Kenai Peninsula vote keeps senior tax exemption

Proposal would have increased property taxes for seniors, disabled veterans

After being put on the Oct. 4 ballot, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s plan to phase out the additional $150,000 property tax exemption offered to Kenai Peninsula Borough seniors was voted down by the public.

“Three-to-one turned it down, with 6,888 not in favor and 2,754 saying yes,” said Larry Persily, assistant to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. “The results were pretty resounding.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is one of the few municipalities in Alaska to offer an additional $150,000 property tax exemption along with the state’s mandated $150,000 property tax exemption for seniors and disabled veterans. The ordinance approved by the Assembly last July sought to gradually phase out the additional $150,000 exemption starting in 2018. Currently eligible seniors would not have been affected.

The proposal also included a hardship provision that would limit qualifying seniors’ property tax bills to 2 percent of their annual household income.

But voters apparently prefer to maintain what’s in place.

“The public wanted this,” added Persily, “so nothing will change.”

However, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Blaine Gilman cautions that this will place more of a tax burden on younger families.

“The senior population is growing by 30 percent compared with the general population. Younger families will have to pay higher rates as a result of this,” said Gilman. “But the community made the decision to support their seniors, and the Assembly will carry out what the community wants.”

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