Roads, Parks, Emergency Services & Public Transport included on Anchorage Ballot

There are seven propositions that will appear on the upcoming municipal election ballot in Anchorage. Among them are three propositions about Municipal projects.

You’ve probably heard about Prop 5, The Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative – that would give gay and transgender people the same rights as everybody else in the public sphere. And maybe you know about Prop 1 – a $59 million school bond that would be used mostly for construction of and repairs to buildings throughout the district. But how about propositions 2, 3 and 4? Those are the three Municipal Bonds. Jacques Boutet sits on the board of “Anchorage Tomorrow,” a group that advocates for Municipal Bond projects. He says the propositions would raise the average home-owner’s taxes by about $30, funding capital projects, critical infrastructure and services that municipal tax payers have come to depend on. Like Roads, which take a beating here.

“As you’re driving through mud puddles up to your axels and you’re losing tire rubber as you bounce through potholes, you’re going to see the full force of nature, particularly with a snow year like we’ve had,” Boutet said.

Boutet says people who live in Anchorage like their roads, and that makes roads bonds, typically, the most popular with voters. The last one that failed was in 1989. Prop 2 approves the sale of the largest amount of bonds – $27.4 million worth, for road and drainage improvements.

Proposition 3 is about parks, which, you think would be popular in a place that’s all about the outdoors, but that’s not so says Boutet.

“Recent history with municipal bond propositions related to parks and recs has not been successful,” he said.

The last time a parks and rec bond passed was in 2008, under Mayor Begich, who was a big advocate for parks. Boutet says recent failures of the parks bonds is something that has Anchorage Tomorrow scratching their collective heads.

“Our parks and recreation system is widely used – everything from trails to playgrounds – you go out in the summer and even in the winter and you see those facilities just full of users,” Boutet said.

Boutet says it’s hard to say exactly why high parks use doesn’t translate into support for parks … but if voters do approve prop 3, Anchorage parks and rec will get $2.7 million to work on parks and trails.

“Replacing bridges along our key trails – the Coastal Trail the Chester Creek trail. We are talking about re-paving sections of the Coastal Trail. We also have some important improvements proposed for our cuddy midtown park – the final lighting for our skating oval … the all-inclusive park would also be the first, potentially be the first, of its kind in Alaska,” Boutet said.

Proposition 4 is about emergency medical services and public transportation. Public transportation, Boutet says, has always been a tough sell because Anchorage is a car city. Up until 2010 there were two separate bonds for public safety and transportation. Public safety almost always passed while public transport just about always failed. So in 2011, the Mayor’s office merged the two into one bond, and viola, the whole thing passed. Boutet says he’s hopeful the combined bonds will pass again. Mostly, Boutet says the bonds would fund technology upgrades.

“We’re looking at replacing aging components both of the technology that help these systems operate efficiently. and shorten response times,” he said.

If Prop 4 passes, the municipality will get $1.5 million for such improvements. Besides props 1 through 5, there is proposition 6, which would allow the Anchorage Assembly to post notices for their meetings on their web-site instead of in a newspaper, and proposition 7 which gives widows and widowers of a person killed in the U.S. military an exemption from property taxes, on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their home. Anchorage Municipal Elections are set for April 3.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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