Anchorage Assembly members consider options to fund purchase of body cameras for APD

A view of the Anchorage Police Department in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska. December 2020.
A view of the Anchorage Police Department in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska. December 2020.(KTU)
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 7:45 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A proposal to equip the Anchorage Police Department with body cameras by asking voters to approve a tax levy has been delayed, as some Anchorage Assembly members are looking to find other ways to fund the effort.

If the proposed ordinance made it to the ballot and was approved by voters, it would create an annual, recurring taxpayer cost of $5.32 per $100,000 of assessed taxable property value. A Dec. 8 vote on the ordinance was delayed.

Assembly member Crystal Kennedy has said she is working with fellow Eagle River/Chugiak Assembly Member Jamie Allard, as well as Celeste Hodge Growden, president and CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus to find an alternative funding source that would not require voters choosing to increase taxes.

The issue was discussed briefly during the Anchorage Assembly Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, with Assembly Member Meg Zaletel saying she’d like to see a proposal and is concerned about securing recurring funding for technology that will be leased.

“This is going to be an ongoing cost, you know, this isn’t about just trying to find some money to start something,” Kennedy responded. “This is going to be something that has to be sustained, and we believe though that those of us that have been talking about it, believe that that can be done within the general fund without increasing taxes or asking the voters to improve or to approve a new tax levy.”

Assembly member John Weddleton put forward the possibility of raising the marijuana tax by 2% to cover the cost of body cams for APD, but said that he had just thought of the idea and had not looked into it further.

Assembly member Forrest Dunbar noted that in order to take advantage of any option that requires voter approval, they need to have a proposal to vote on soon.

In order to put a proposal on the ballot, it would need to be passed by the Assembly by the meeting on Jan. 26.

Kennedy said there could be multiple proposals for the committee to consider soon, as the administration might be drafting another plan.

“Without something in front of us, it’s a little bit difficult to commit to whether I would want to use general fund dollars or not,” said Assembly Chair Felix Rivera. “If you’re trying to cut the library, heck no. So it just depends on the proposal you put in front of us.”

Rivera said he will schedule a work session when the proposals are ready.

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