Bronson administration to propose restructuring of city government positions

Incoming municipal manager said executive position changes are meant to create efficiencies
Anchorage City Hall.
Anchorage City Hall.(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 4:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The first Anchorage Assembly confirmation hearings for Mayor Dave Bronson’s executive appointments began Friday, offering a glimpse at upcoming changes the new administration plans to propose.

Assembly members held confirmation hearings for the following appointees during a work session on Friday:

  • Amy Demboski, Municipal Manager
  • Douglas R. Schrage, Fire Chief
  • Patrick N. Bergt, Municipal Attorney
  • Travis C. Frisk, Chief Fiscal Officer
  • Niki Tshibaka, Human Resources Director

Appointment of these positions is scheduled on the assembly’s consent agenda for its July 13 regular meeting.

The entire list of Bronson’s appointments and their titles has raised questions about whether the new administration will propose a reorganization of municipal government positions.

“This is the guidance that I’ve given all department directors — until such time the assembly approves a reorg(anization), we are operating under the current established organization structure and code. That is the law, we will follow the law,” Demboski said.

She said some titles on the list are working titles, and in the coming months, she plans to lay out the administration’s restructuring proposal.

“I anticipate the reorg(anization) will probably coincide with the budget, and so you should see it September, October timeframe is when I’m anticipating, probably early October, is when will come through,” Demboski said. “And I will, line-by-line, make sure it’s very clear to everyone where those pieces are shifting.”

Assembly member Meg Zaletel noted what appears to be an expansion of executive level positions, coinciding with a hiring freeze.

“I’m finding that a bit at odds with the mayor’s previous statement about looking for efficiencies in government, and particularly a hiring freeze or hiring pause,” Zaletel said. “You know, I appreciate good organization, but I also want to ensure that we have the service delivery on the front lines of the municipality and we’re not sacrificing that to possibly fund additional executive positions.”

Demboski said the changes are aimed at creating efficiencies and she does not expect a resulting budget increase.

“Though you ... you may see some reallocations ... the overall intent of this administration is to bring down the actual cost of government,” Demboski said. “So for example, I wouldn’t anticipate you would see a massive budget reduction in public safety, but you might have other departments that actually have done, perform very well, and we can shift some of those funds other places. I’m not expecting an increment. I’m expecting, potentially, reallocations, but not an increment.”

As for where the administration is at on following through with Bronson’s campaign commitments to implement budget cuts for most departments and reduce property taxes for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Demboski said they are currently evaluating spending.

“I would just reiterate, you know, this mayor has been in office for one week and one day, and that being the case, the direction I’ve given to all department directors is to do a status evaluation of year spent versus actual, what they have left, to evaluate,” she said. “... It is not my expectation that this administration will develop a broad-based, ‘every department has to cut 5-8%.’ I will be surprised if that’s the direction. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Overall, I think you’re going to see a reduction, probably in that neighborhood, but first we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Demboski said the administration is still developing its budget guidance.

Anchorage assembly members plan to continue holding public confirmation hearings for Bronson’s appointees with the goal of finishing the confirmation process on August 24.

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