With the release of the most current property value assessments in Nome, more than a dozen property owners have filed appeals on increased valuation to their homes and personal property over last year.
On March 21, the Nome City Clerk’s office mailed out the new assessment values of properties owned in the city. Assessments are conducted during the fall before each tax year.
If a property owner disagrees with the amount the assessor has set for their property, they can file a written appeal with the Nome City Clerk’s office. The appeal period ends Friday, April 28, according to the city.
Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman told the Nome Common Council this past week that the increase has resulted in concern on social media about higher property tax bills.
“Yes, the assessment went up substantially, which depending on your view, if I’m a property owner I’m probably happy to see my property go up in value, though I don’t want to be paying a tax bill that’s related to that,” Steckman said.
Steckman also pointed out that the increase in assessment value was not calculated by the city, but rather by an Anchorage-based firm, Appraisal Company of Alaska (ACA), which assessed the value of properties in Nome.
Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the mill rate by the assessed value of the property. The current property tax rate is 12 mills, which means property owners pay $12 for every $1,000 of assessed value.
An overview of property taxes in Nome can be found here.
Setting the mill rate is done annually by the Nome Common Council. The budget calendar sets March 27 through March 31 as the dates when department heads meet with Steckman and Nome’s finance director on goals, accomplishments and the preliminary FY-2024 budget. A first reading of the budget and setting the 2023 mill rate is expected on May 22.
Appeals that cannot be resolved between the assessor and property owner are heard by the Board of Equalization, which will meet May 3 at 5:30 p.m. Steckman added that if people disagree with their assessment, they should reach out to ACA to see if it can be addressed before the board meets.
Appraisal Company of Alaska did not respond to a request for comment by the deadline for this story.
Steckman related to the council a common theme he is hearing from property owners.
“I didn’t do any improvements to my property … well, your property has also been impacted by inflation, and inflation obviously has hit Nome hard,” Steckman said. “Then we’re seeing the cost of constructing a house; the values have gone up.”
A public records request with the city revealed more than a dozen property owners had filed appeals to their 2023 assessments between March 21 and April 12. One of the appellants, Patrick Dewane, wrote that his house on East King Place is still under construction, is weathered in, and is not being lived in by anyone.
Dewane’s assessment shows a land valuation of $16,000, and he estimates the unfinished home to be worth $40,000 at this point. The 2023 assessment values the home at $214,800. He feels that his house may be worth that amount in the future, but not right now.
“The permit was issued on a theoretical valuation of $214,000,” Dewane said. “It’s still under construction. It’s just a shell. It’s weathered in from the outside. And this year’s assessment was $230,800. So, it’s in the ballpark of what the assumed value is when it’s completed. But it is half insulated, missing doors and I’m still working on it. No one’s living in it.”
During the most recent Nome Common Council meeting, member Scot Henderson explained he will be taking an active role in reviewing efficiency in government as it relates to the forthcoming city budget.
“I think the general consensus of property owners in Nome is that this is a very significant increase, and that we need to be, as a council, looking at where our budget is,” Henderson said. “This is my second year going through the budget process. I will be asking a lot of questions … a lot of details … can we do this better? Can we do it more efficiently? Can we do it more cost effectively?”
Henderson has been encouraged by Steckman’s desire to see a lower mill rate in Nome.
“I think there is a general expectation that since property assessments have increased so quickly that the mill rate needs to be reduced,” Henderson said. “(I’m) glad to hear, Glenn, that you’re looking at putting a budget together that is asking for a lower mill rate than we currently have.”
Property in the city is increasing in value because of inflation and higher purchase prices than before, Steckman said. Rates have been lowered over the past three years, with the mill rate seeing a downturn over two years and the seasonal property tax rate being repealed, Steckman said.
Image at top: An unfinished home located on East King Place in Nome. Photo by Greg Knight/KNOM (2023)