Assembly Reviews Tax Exemption Case, Amends Mobile Home Park Code

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

At its regular meeting last night, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly discussed an ongoing court case and heard a coding ordinance passed on from the Planning and Zoning Commission. As community development director Bob Pederson explained, the ordinance updates the mobile home park chapter of the borough code and lessens some of the regulatory requirements on construction or expansion of those parks.

“The key change is adding mobile home parks as a conditional use in the R2 zoning district, and some of the details include eliminating the requirements for the mobile home park owner to provide storage areas for the tenants’ personal property. It either reduces or eliminates the requirements for play areas within mobile home parks. The analogy – when we looked at the code, we don’t require that in another other districts or development types.”

Pederson said this is one in a series of ordinances that the Planning and Zoning Commission has initiated after the announcement of the Jackson Mobile Home Park closure, and three or four more are still to come. The assembly passed the ordinance to amend the code.

It also held a conversation with its attorney, Joe Levesque, about a long-term court case. As Levesque explained, Jerry Markham has brought three different cases to court challenging the Kodiak Island Borough Board of Equalization’s denial of his senior citizen tax exemption.

“In each of those cases, Mr. Markham was asked or will be asked to provide two things. Either proof that he received the permanent fund dividend or proof that, if he had applied to the permanent fund dividend, he would have been eligible. And Mr. Markham is especially challenging the need to have to prove his eligibility for the senior tax exemption.”

Levesque said the case is bigger than this one individual’s claim.

“Mr. Markham is not only suggesting that he deserves this senior tax exemption. He’s also suggesting that everybody else that’s similarly situated also falls in the same category.”

Levesque said the burden is on the tax-payer to prove eligibility.

“And if the borough doesn’t have a way to make the tax-payer prove the eligibility, then nobody has to prove it, and anybody that is 65 or a disabled veteran, whether or not they live in the home and don’t get the PFD, would all be entitled to that senior citizen tax or disabled veteran tax exemption.”

The assembly discussed issuing a non-participation notice at the Supreme Court level. Assemblyman Dan Rohrer said if they lose, it just means they need to reevaluate their procedures and policies.

“To make sure we tighten up any holes that may have existed and make sure we don’t lose it next time. For me, I’m ready to say right now for the Supreme Court, that I don’t want to see us participate at all in that and just let them rule on it, decide what they want to decide, and go from there.”

The assembly directed Levesque to file a notice of nonparticipation in the 2013 case.

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s next work session is scheduled for September 10 and its next regular meeting for the 17th.

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