MAJOR TOURISM RETAILERS AND SOME OPERATORS ARE NOW PRIVATELY WEIGHING IN ON THE OUTLOOK FOR 2022 SAYING THAT IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THE BOOM SEASON THAT THE MAJOR CRUISELINES PREDICTED. Late last year, industry cruiseline operators made some very optimistic predictions about the number of visitors we can expect in 2022 season. When we heard projections for over one million visitors to land in Juneau, we predicted that the 2022 season would not materialize with visitor totals anywhere near 1,500,000 visitors. In the past month, we began receiving feedback from local operators that indeed, the “numbers” for the upcoming season will instead be in the range of 750,000 to 1,000,000. Some operators even suggested that the 2022 season should be considered a “ramp-up” season, meaning this is a necessary step toward the more normal visitor counts in the 1,000,000 range. This is in great contrast to the industry predictions that this season would be amounting to well over 1,000,000 visitors. One operator quipped: “After what we’ve been through, we will consider this to be our lucky year—lucky if we can host one half million tourists here in Juneau!”
CBJ DECIDES TO FINE PROPERTY OWNERS $50 PER DAY UNTIL THEY DISCLOSE PROPERTY SALES PRICES. In a move to provide incentives for property purchasers to disclose sales prices on property in the borough, the City has now authorized fines of $50 per day to be levied to sellers and purchasers of property until they discloses actual sales prices. By enforcing what is called the mandatory disclosure law, this data will give the assessor accurate data so that “full market value” can be reflected in property tax assessments. This comes on the heels of the CBJ Assembly’s approval in November of 2021 of a full disclosure policy of sales prices, even though Alaska itself is considered to be a non-disclosure state—not requiring buyers to disclose property values upon sale. While the result of this may be to collect more tax revenue for the Borough, it will serve to further frustrate local citizens who are already mobilizing to litigate commercial tax assessments of the CBJ by hiring their own legal counsel.
WHILE RESIDENTIAL INTEREST RATES MOVE UP IN THE 4% TO 5% RANGE, COMMERCIAL BORROWERS STILL ENJOY LOW RATES OFFERED BY AIDEA, THE STATE-CHARTERED COMMERCIAL LENDER. Over the past 90 days we’ve seen residential rates climb above 5%, tempering the ability of some buyers to be able to purchase homes in an already escalating home market. Commercial borrowers, on the other hand, are still enjoying the comparatively low rates that are offered by AIDEA, the state-funded lender of choice. As of the week of April 11, 2022 , AIDEA rates are 4.58% for a 20-year term, and 4.52% for loans that are 25 years in length. Rates are posted weekly on the AIDEA website. The loans require the participation of a local lender in the amount of 10%, so that the AIDEA portion is 90%, which results in a blended interest rate. Contact your local lender for details.
CBJ MANAGER WATT CALLS FOR THE CITY TO ALLOCATE OVER $19 MILLION IN SURPLUS FUNDS FOR SPENDING IN THE UPCOMING BUDGET. He accurately characterized the CBJ budget and its spending as “volatile” considering all of the factors involved—the pandemic, low visitor numbers for the 2020 and 2021 tour seasons, off-budget expenses related to homelessness, and a bumper year for the cost of snow removal. But through all of this, mainly due to the pandemic, the CBJ still has a budget surplus of $19 million that is earmarked for almost a dozen different projects and programs recommended by the manager. What we’d like to see is an emphasis on spending any excess funds on facility repairs and acute infrastructure needs to keep costs down for the long term. We believe that this is the responsible course to better manage the cost of living in Juneau for all who live here.