Anchorage mayor proposes adding $5M to police and fire budgets

A white man in a suit and glasses speaks into a microphone on a podium in front of some flags
Mayor Dave Bronson speaks to reporters on Feb. 1, 2022 (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson is proposing to amend the city’s budget to allocate $5 million more to the Anchorage Police and Fire Departments. 

Officials for the mayor’s office say the city’s projected revenues increased by $11.4 million after the first quarter of the fiscal year, which started January 1. So the additional money for police and fire won’t increase the overall budget, Bronson said at a news conference Friday. 

“It stays under the tax cap by $5.8 million,” he said. “It relies on $4.6 million less in property taxes than last year‘s budget.” 

That translates to about $134 in savings per $100,000 of assessed value, officials say. 

Most of the additional revenue comes from the city receiving more money than predicted in room rental and alcohol taxes, something Assembly officials anticipated when putting together their budget in December.

In a statement, Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance welcomed the mayor’s increased public safety funding.

“We are pleased that the Mayor has come around to accepting the bed and alcohol tax revenue forecasts that the Assembly approved in December during the budget process,” LaFrance wrote.

Additionally, Office of Management and Budget director Cheryl Frasca said the city saved $2.4 million by what she called “scrubbing” costs for salaried positions. 

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve had a lot of people come and leave,” Frasca said. “And when they come in, they’re at a lower position, but yet the budget didn’t get updated to reflect the new position cost at a lesser amount.”  

Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle didn’t go into much detail at Friday’s news conference as to what the additional funding would be used for beyond saying it would make Anchorage safer. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Monfore said the department will use the extra funds for staffing and emergency equipment. 

The Assembly is set to take up the budget revisions on April 26 after introducing them at its meeting Tuesday.

This story had been corrected to reflect when the budget revisions will be introduced.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.