At no time in Fairbanks’ history has a borough assembly election been so important for members of the faith community. I know you hear this every cycle, but the issues at stake this time are important to not only your faith, but to your church finances.
I know many of you have received the Fairbanks voter’s guide put out by the Alaska Family Council. It has some great information on the candidates.
I would like to highlight one subject: taxation of nonprofits. It began with several small churches who were afraid to speak out- but the first well-known instance of the borough assessor attempting to tax a nonprofit was Camp Liwa.
When people tithe … they do not expect to see their tithes and offerings go to fund the borough government and school district.
While this matter is still in litigation, it has not stopped the borough assessor from moving to tax other nonprofit entities. Not only has the Food Bank been taxed, at the end of August, the borough closed the Kid Zone at the Carlson Center and had someone from the assessor’s office sitting all week in the Food Bank parking lot to monitor the food bank’s use of their land.
The entity that was formerly Love, Inc. – now Helping Alaska – has been similarly taxed. Several other churches have also testified they are being taxed – one of them over $150,000 dollars. It seems fairly clear that there is assault on those who carry out the mission of Christ.
Under prior borough code, nonprofits had to go to court and hire attorneys to counter the assessor’s decision. Tammie Wilson, Jimi Cash, and the conservative board members voted to allow the Board of Equalization (BOE) to hear these cases. While Mr. Gibson was not on the assembly at the time, he indicated he would vote the same.
This gives nonprofit entities an opportunity to seek redress without hiring expensive attorneys. While nonprofits can still avail themselves of the court system, going to the Board of Equalization gives nonprofits a more affordable opportunity to have their appeal heard.
There is still more to be done to protect nonprofits, but we need to continue the conservative majority to do that.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
When people tithe or donate money to an organization, they want to see that money further that organization’s goals or religious beliefs. They do not expect to see their tithes and offerings go to fund the borough government and school district.
I hope you take the opportunity to thank Assemblywoman Wilson and Assemblyman Cash for their diligence and efforts. Aaron Gibson, formerly on the Fairbanks City Council, will vote the same way. The loudest thank you is to vote on October 3.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and are submitted as a private citizen.