ANCHORAGE, Alaska — More than 100 building owners in Downtown Anchorage are awaiting an Anchorage Assembly decision on an upcoming ordinance that would have them shelling out more tax dollars.
While some like the idea of getting extra city services to help with things like snow plowing and weeding, others aren't so sure about the proposed expansion of a taxing zone called the Downtown Improvement District.
The district is an area where commercial building owners pay more in taxes, and in return receive enhanced services like snow plowing, graffiti removal and weeding -- all of which helps draw tourists and spending Downtown. The time for the plan to be renewed is rapidly approaching, but not all area businesses think it’s a good idea.
In 2000, the Anchorage Downtown Partnership set a zig-zagged western border for the district to exclude several businesses like the Hotel Captain Cook, which at the time didn’t want to pay the taxes. But in a recent poll, 62 percent of businesses in the district and the proposed expansion -- including the Captain Cook -- say they would approve expanding the district.
The partnership supports moving the district’s western border to L Street, where the business district gives way to the Bootlegger’s Cove neighborhood.
“The natural boundary of Downtown is the bluff, and the bluff starts at L Street; it will allow us to manage the true area of Downtown as a whole,” said the partnership’s Chris Schutte.
Some property owners in the district agree, citing the services they receive.
“You can see how they have this grass here, this grass was way up here, high -- it just doesn't look good,” said Downtown building owner Paul Nangle. “We have grass across the fence, and they took all that down.”
But others who live on the edges of the district say they don't want to pay more for things like snow plowing and weeding, because they already pay to do it themselves.
Rich Cline of Cline's Tesoro, on the eastern edge of the district, says he thinks it should be made smaller because he doesn't see any of the benefits -- so he shouldn't have to pay.
“The tourists never come up this far; they don't walk up to my station wanting to buy gas,” Cline said. “That's another reason -- why should I pay for something I don't see any benefits from?”
The Assembly takes the issue up at its next meeting on Sept. 28.
Contact Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org