The Sitka Assembly will consider eliminating the tax on personal property — like pleasure boats — when it meets in regular session tonight.
It will also consider purchasing a computer-aided tax assessing program for $150,000 to help make up the loss.
Sitka assessor Wendy Lawrence introduced the idea of Computer Assisted Mass Appraisals at the assembly’s last meeting. The software has been developed by local real estate appraiser Charles Horan. The goal is to streamline the appraisal of homes and other real property in the borough from several hours to 45-minutes.
The increased efficiency, Lawrence believes, could ease the city government’s budget crunch somewhat, and make taxing other property such as boats unnecessary.
She’s argued that taxing personal property — as opposed to real estate — consumes too much time for the assessing department, compared to the revenues it generates — about $127,000.
The assembly approved the idea 2 weeks ago on first reading. The ordinance now goes to second-and-final reading tonight.
The assembly will also look at imposing steeper penalties for using a cell phone while driving. Penalties would stairstep from $50 to $200 for the first three offenses, then jump to $500 and a mandatory court appearance for anything after that.
Also tonight, the assembly will discuss the pros and cons of creating a Municipal Quota Entity, or MQE, which would allow the city to buy and lease halibut quota. Assembly members Kevin Knox and Aaron Bean are sponsoring the discussion. They believe that Sitka could develop and operate a municipal leasing system that would allow new fishermen to participate in the commercial fishery with small boats and rods and reels, among other advantages.
The assembly meets tonight in Harrigan Centennial Hall. Raven News will bring you live coverage beginning at 6 p.m.