from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third
Judicial District, Palmer, Kari Kristiansen, Judge. Superior
Court No. 3PA-14-01600 CI.
Pursche, Pro se, Wasilla, Appellant.
Aschenbrenner, Deputy Borough Attorney, and Nicholas
Spiropoulos, Borough Attorney, Palmer, for Appellee.
Stowers, Chief Justice, Fabe, Winfree, Maassen, and Bolger,
Wasilla landowner appeals the tax foreclosure against his
property, arguing that the property is exempt from local
property taxes because it was originally transferred to his
predecessor by federal patent. He also claims that the
federal patent takes this property beyond state court
jurisdiction. But after a patent issues, property disputes
must generally be resolved in state court. And land once
owned by the federal government is subject to local property
taxes after it is conveyed to a private party. We therefore
affirm the superior court's judgment of foreclosure.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Pursche owns a parcel of real property in Wasilla, a city
located within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough boundaries.
Pursche's property was originally conveyed by a federal
homestead patent; Pursche recorded a copy of the patent in
1999. In 2012 Pursche failed to pay Borough property taxes on
the property. In May 2014 the Borough filed in the superior
court its annual petition for foreclosure on properties
within its boundaries. Attached to this petition was a
foreclosure list showing all taxable parcels of land in the
Borough that were delinquent in their property taxes.
Pursche's property was included on this foreclosure list
because he owed $840.89 in delinquent real property taxes,
penalties, and interest for taxes levied in 2012.
filed an objection to the foreclosure list in the superior
court. In his objection Pursche argued that
he did not owe any taxes on the property to the Borough
because the federal land patent in its chain of title
exempted it from local taxes. He also claimed that the
superior court did not have jurisdiction to foreclose on his
property because of the federal land patent in its chain of
Borough filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that
there were no genuine issues of material fact and that the
foreclosure list provided prima facie evidence that Pursche
had failed to pay valid taxes. Pursche then filed a
motion to dismiss, reiterating the arguments he made in his
initial objection to the foreclosure list. The superior court
granted the Borough's motion for summary judgment and
denied Pursche's motion to dismiss.
issue of jurisdiction, the superior court concluded that it
had jurisdiction over Pursche's land, despite the federal
land patent in its chain of title. It explained that under
Alaska law, the superior court is the court of general
jurisdiction, and there is no exception that removes patented
property from this broad jurisdictional grant.
court also held that Pursche's property was properly
subject to local property taxes. The court noted that Pursche
had cited no authority to support his claim that property
with a federal land patent in the chain of title is exempt
from local property taxes. The court stated that the
authority cited by Pursche supported only the proposition
that such land was not taxable " while still held by the
United States." Thus, the court concluded, Pursche had
failed to rebut the evidence that the foreclosure list
correctly identified his property as having unpaid, valid
taxes, and as a result, the Borough could foreclose on it.
appeals the grant of summary judgment pro se.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
[A] party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of
through admissible evidence, that there are no [genuine]
disputed issues of material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law."  " Once
the moving party has made that showing, the burden shifts to
the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that
he could produce evidence reasonably tending to dispute or
contradict the movant's evidence and thus demonstrate
that a material issue of fact exists."  " We
review a grant of summary judgment de novo, 'affirming if
the record ...