FRANKLYWNOW - Appeals denied for Sockeye Fire victims fighting Mat-Su Borough

Appeals denied for Sockeye Fire victims fighting Mat-Su Borough land assessments

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Victims of the Sockeye Fire are feeling the burn again, and this time, they say it’s from the Mat-Su Borough. Several families fought back after the borough assessed their damaged properties at the same value as before the wildfire.

Of the nine families who appealed, six took their arguments all the way to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Board of Equalization, and all six were denied.

Spring at the Boeve’s home looks different this year.

“You can’t fool yourself anymore,” said Tam Boeve.

Without the snow, the little bit of green that has come back after the Sockeye Fire reminds them of what they lost last June.

“We spent 20 years picking out our trees and clearing. Some of the trees had names. The kids grew up here,” she said.

In addition to assessing their land at the same value as before the fire, Boeve says the borough determined the value of their home even higher.

She said she’s not surprised she lost the appeal, but says the way the borough determined the market value of her home goes against common sense.

“People are still buying properties that burned, but nobody’s buying homes on burnt properties because nobody wants to deal with this,” said Boeve.

Since none of the damaged properties with homes on them have sold, the borough got market data for the Boeve’s home by comparing it to the sales of three other homes, none of which are on burnt land.

“It’s like comparing apples to oranges,” said real estate agent Geri Crowley. “The first thing they [buyers] say is, ‘Was it affected by the sockeye fire?'”

She said no homes on affected property have sold because, if they were affected, buyers won’t even consider looking.

“What we were comparing was apples to apples,” said Borough Assessor Brad Pickett.

He said the market doesn’t show a negative effect on sales, and even though he wouldn’t buy burnt land himself, he has to go by the numbers.

“My job doesn’t allow me to do it emotionally, I have to look at the numbers,” he said.

Pickett said he would like to adjust the assessments, but he’s responsible to every property tax payer in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and adjustments to fire damaged land would shift the burden to everyone else.

While for the Boeves, numbers don’t mean much. Their appeal would have only saved them $300.

“It wouldn’t have made a big difference to the borough budget, but it would have made a big difference to the morale of the community, said Boeve.

Pickett said its important to remember that 55 homes burned in the Sockeye Fire. So, most of the land here doesn’t have a house on it. He said land comparisons were only made using the sale of other land that was burned.

Daniella Rivera can be reached at and on Facebook.

The post Appeals denied for Sockeye Fire victims fighting Mat-Su Borough land assessments appeared first on KTVA 11.

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