Anchorage Assembly overrides most of Bronson’s budget vetoes

A person in a black blouse and mask sits at a table next to two other people in masks.
From left to right: Assembly members Austin Quinn-Davidson, Meg Zaletel and John Weddleton. During Friday’s meeting, Quinn-Davidson asks a question to city manager Amy Demboski. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly on Friday voted to override nearly all of Mayor Dave Bronson’s vetoes to the city’s 2022 operating budget.

That includes bringing back money for police officers in public schools, building safety inspectors, some early education grants and a roving team of crisis mental health providers.

“The amendments we approved affect a very small portion of the municipality’s overall budget, yet will have long-lasting positive impacts on our community,” said a statement from Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson.

Friday’s vote is the latest in a back-and-forth between the Assembly and Bronson on next year’s spending plan.

Bronson originally proposed a $550 million budget that would cut city spending by $7.4 million, or 1.3%. In November, the Assembly approved a budget that restored most of the cuts Bronson had proposed. Then Bronson vetoed nearly all of those changes. 

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

At the Assembly meeting on Friday, attorneys for the Assembly and attorneys for the Bronson administration clashed over whose revenue forecast should be used to create the budget.

The mayor’s proposal assumed that the city would bring in about $3 million less in 2022 than it did in 2021 due to concerns about the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Assembly assumed that the city would continue to recover from the pandemic and would bring in about $3 million more than it did in 2021.

In a statement after Friday’s meeting, Bronson criticized the veto overrides. He said the Assembly increased the budget by nearly $2 million, pushing “spending to the tax cap.”

“We must reign in spending and put taxpayers first,” he said. “I will continue fighting to make government more efficient, responsible, and accountable to the people of Anchorage. We simply cannot spend more than we have.”

The Assembly voted 9-2, 9-2 and 8-3 to override three separate vetoes with two conservative members Crystal Kennedy and Jamie Allard from Chugach/Eagle River dissenting on all three votes. South Anchorage Assembly member John Weddleton voted against overriding one of the vetoes linked to funding for the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation and Solid Waste Services.

RELATED: Sullivan Arena homeless shelter gets third new leader in 3 months

Previous articleAlaska News Nightly: Friday, December 10, 2021
Next articleRebounding oil prices mean two idled Cook Inlet fields are operating again
Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.