Alaska Municipal League Wraps Up in Sitka

Meetings of the Alaska Municipal League wrap up Friday. About 100 mayors, city administrators and other community leaders are in Sitka for the organization’s summer conference, where it lays out priorities for next winter’s legislative session.

The Alaska Municipal League is the lobbying organization that represents every city and borough in the state. Kathie Wasserman is the AML’s executive director.

“We’re the one that helps make sure that one mayor isn’t asking for this, and then the other mayor doesn’t tweak it a bit, and then pretty soon the Legislature’s going to think, ‘Well, we can’t solve their problem, they’re all on a different page,’” Wasserman said.

Wasserman says that every year, one of the group’s top priorities is to urge state government to maintain revenue sharing with local governments. Doing so, she says, helps local governments avoid major tax increases. The program was done away with in 2004 and then revived in 2008.

“The cities and boroughs in this state were having a very difficult time, and that’s when oil prices started going up. So they were requiring more money to heat all of their buildings, more money to fill their fleets with gas. The state was raking in a lot of money and cities were slowly going broke, and having to raise taxes in order to pay for that stuff. We since have gotten revenue sharing reinstated, and it has helped immensely,” Wasserman said.

Attendees at the conference will spend today finalizing a draft policy statement, which will be further refined, and then adopted in the fall.

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Ed Ronco is a reporter at KCAW in Sitka.

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