Property assessment appeal accepted by Juneau Assembly, question of jurisdiction arise

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Amid the scores of appeals on assessments of commercial properties in Juneau, one appeal has moved in a different direction.

    The typical process has been owners appealing to the Board of Equalization, and then taking their appeals to Superior Court, as provided in state law.

    However, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted Monday to accept an appeal sent to the body by Greg Adler, on behalf of Goldstein Improvement, challenging the assessed value of two properties in the city.

    That's according to CBJ Attorney Robert Palmer.

    "On Monday night the assembly accepted an appeal from Mr. Adler, from the Goldstein improvements company, for the limited purpose of determining whether the assembly has authority to consider a property evaluation appeal. And the assembly asked me to find a hearing officer, and if I can't find the hearing officer then the assembly would convene and hear the appeal itself," he said.

    Palmer said there are conflicts that stem from two parts of the city charter, which he said could be related.

    One directs that the Assembly cannot give orders on administrative matters to a subordinate of the city manager.

    The other directs that board decisions shall become final unless notice of an appeal to the assembly is filed, and that board decision may be appealed to the assembly by any party affected by the proceedings.

    "I think we should accept this appeal but only get briefing about the jurisdictional issues," said Juneau Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski. "There are clearly three conflicting things before we even get to the merits of the matter."

    In an interview, Adler said there's no jurisdictional question.

    "The first thing that the city attorney should have done was look at the notice of appeal which states in the first line 'this appeal is governed by CBJ 01-50 of the municipal appellate code' and it says its governed, the definition of governs is to exercise continuous sovereign authority over, so there is no question that CBJ 01-50 is controlling."

    In his appeal, Adler alleges fraud, improper, excessive, and unequal valuation, including methodology by the Juneau Assessor.

    "The scheme that the assessor uses, the cost approach, doesn't work in Juneau because they use $147 a square foot and costs are more like $450-$800 per square foot, and they don't use direct cost of building and indirect costs of building, they don't account for obsolescence, they don't account for profit of a builder. The income approach, they state in finding, they did not use," he said."They excluded many, many many 20-30 sales and they included a sale, the port property, that is definitely an outlier property. So their sales information, their data that they used in their computer analysis, it's corrupt, and they talk about using the mass appraisal method which sounds great on its face, but they excluded so many properties that their mass appraisal method for downtown Juneau was six or seven properties."

    The question pending before the Assembly currently is if the body has jurisdiction over the appeal, and if its determined that the assembly does have the authority, they would then hear the merits of Adler's appeal.

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