Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson is seeking a slightly leaner city spending plan for 2024 under his proposed budget unveiled Monday.
Bronson wants to shave $2.4 million in spending from the current general government budget of about $600 million. These figures don’t include city utilities and enterprises, or the capital budget proposal.
It’s largely a continuation of the current year’s spending plan. At a press conference Monday, Bronson identified some areas he wants to increase funding.
“For 2024, I added funding for snow removal, road maintenance and repairs, and to the continuation of public transit route 85,” Bronson said. “I made sure there were no cuts to our public safety departments, and I lowered the tax burden on property tax payers. … I want to assure Anchorage residents that they do not have to choose between public safety or snow removal under my administration.”
Bronson’s proposed budget anticipates property tax bills will decrease by 4% on average.
The budget balances largely through debts being retired, assuming various one-time expenses like housing and homelessness grants will indeed be one-time, and anticipated savings from vacant positions.
The Anchorage Assembly is particularly concerned about high vacancy rates in city departments. A resolution it passed last month that outlines the body’s budget priorities highlighted that at the half-way point of the current budget year, city departments had spent much less than half of their budgets.
Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle described his department’s hiring needs.
“I have 52 vacancies right now out of 441 positions,” Kerle said. “We prioritize our calls. If it’s a low priority call and there aren’t officers available, then there will be extended time for police to respond.”
The Assembly will hold public hearings and deliberations on the budget over the next two months.