Fairbanks North Star Borough updates software for property tax system

Published: May. 27, 2023 at 8:54 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Between May 22 and August 23, the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) is implementing a new software system for handling resident’s property taxes.

This involves closing the Treasury Counter at the Juanita Helms Administrative Center from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday during that time.

The current system, called TACS, has been in use for nearly 30 years.

According to John Tragis, FNSB Manager for Information Integration, “It’s served the borough well, but it’s based on a UNIX operating system and database that is increasingly hard to support, both in terms of talent and hardware and technical capabilities of the system.”

Furthermore, he said the operating system is difficult to bring up to current standards because “it’s not been really thoroughly modernized to modern standards.”

It will be replaced by a cloud-based system called North Star, provided by Revenue Solutions, Inc.

Aspects of computing that are common to modern devices will be available, including “the ability to click and have multiple tabs on a screen, or drop-down menus, things that we take for granted,” Tragis said.

The change will allow different departments to stay on the same page. Peggy Macdonald, FNSB Treasury and Budget Manager, explained, “We have a number of exemptions that are in the assessing database that we can’t bring over to the current system, currently, that we’re looking forward to bring over.”

While having the new system will mostly affect borough employees for now, residents may soon see changes to their online system as well. “It’s going to enable us to put more information out on the web for people in a more accurate format,” Tragis said. “Online payment processing potential exists in greater levels going forward.”

The ability to pay property taxes online, however, would be a potential future development.

Meanwhile, the borough is testing and practicing with the new interface, so employees will be ready when it goes live. “It takes time. That’s why we’re going to be closing the window, so staff can concentrate on seeing all these new screens that we have, getting themselves comfortable with looking at different tabs.”

After this change, improvements to the system are expected to become more incremental.

Tax bills are scheduled to be mailed out on July 1st.

Residents then have the option of paying in full at any time, or in installments on September 1st and November 1st.