After attending the Jan. 3 Assembly work session regarding the City and Borough of Juneau’s plan to annex the additional lands surrounding Juneau, I believe the CBJ needs to research the risks and costs versus the rewards of annexing Area “D”, the north end of Admiralty Island including Funter Bay and Horse &Colt Islands.
My family and many of our neighbors purchased raw land on Admiralty Island knowing we would receive no CBJ services and believed would never pay property taxes. We have worked for numerous years developing our remote properties while maintaining homes and making a living working in Juneau. We pay taxes on all the building materials, supplies and transportation we use to build the remote cabins. I have no complaints paying taxes while residing in Juneau and receiving CBJ services for the fees and taxes I pay. What I do object to is if CBJ annexes these remote properties, I and all the other property owners in Area “D” will be required to pay taxes and receive no CBJ services. I suspect if you ask any Taku River and Shelter Island property owners they will express that they have received zero services for the tax they have paid.
I believe the CBJ’s proposed Area “D” annexation will greatly affect several CBJ departments. Personally, I don’t see how the potential property tax income from the proposed annexed property will cover the additional costs the CBJ will incur with the annexation.
• The City of Angoon has already expressed to the CBJ that it does not want any portion of Admiralty Island to be annexed. One must assume that if the CBJ moves forward with this annexation; lawsuits will result, costing the CBJ Law Department a lot of time and money, not to mention the tremendous amount of staff time and resources that will be necessary to incorporate the land.
• The Finance Department will have to assess all the property values, which will take many hours locating property owners (many properties have been passed down through families and/or are owned by out-of-state residents).
• The Building Department will have to create new wind zone maps, change existing plats, create property addresses, and determine which International Building Codes (IBC) apply. Good luck finding the section for water catchment and extension cord power generation in IBC 2012. I can hardly imagine what it will take to issue building permits and make required inspections when it takes most families decades to build their cabins.
• Docks and Harbors will have to take over the two state-owned docks in Funter Bay that have rotten pilings and sinking floats. The CBJ would have to insure and maintain these remote docks, which may not be possible in their current condition.
Just how much staff time and money will the CBJ have to spend to have assessors, surveyors, building inspectors, engineers and others to physically travel to remote areas of Admiralty Island to properly manage the properties and docks?
Finally, what I feel is the worst outcome of this proposed annexation is property owners will lose their subsistence rights. Many property owners purchased these remote properties and built cabins with plans to live a remote, subsistence-based lifestyle in their retirement. This is the preferred alternative to moving south due to not being able to afford retirement in Juneau. If Area “D” is annexed, property owners in this area will no longer qualify for non-rural subsistence rights and will never be able to afford to live there year-round without being allowed to subsistence hunt and fish. There is no way to quantify the cost to families who would lose their subsistence rights in these remote areas.
I urge the CBJ Assembly to not rush this annexation. CBJ residents and the proposed annexed property owners deserve to see a thorough analysis of the property taxes CBJ may collect versus all the expected costs CBJ will incur due to the annexation. If such an analysis shows that annexation will pencil out in the black for the CBJ, I would then ask our elected officials to please tell all the annexed property owners the term you would use for taxing people, eliminating their subsistence rights and giving them nothing in return.
• Jason Murdoch has been a Juneau resident since December 1976. He is a carpenter and general contractor. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.