Anchorage mayor’s office and assembly reach compromise on first quarter budget revisions

Assembly and mayor’s office reach compromise on first quarter budget revisions.
Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 1:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration are still in a disagreement over the 2022 municipal budget, and what should and should not be funded. However, it seems that the two sides are starting to reach a compromise.

During a Friday work session for the fiscal year 2022 first quarter budget revisions, things started getting a little tense when Midtown assembly member Meg Zaletel asked Director of Management and Budget Cheryl Frasca if the revisions were based upon the assembly’s approved budget after the veto overrides, or the mayor’s proposed budget.

“We’re going from the latter,” Frasca said. “We are working from the one that does not include the funds that the CFO could not certify, and so that is the budget from which we are working.”

Near the end of 2021, the assembly and the mayor traded vetoes and veto overrides on a roughly $550 million operating budget. However, the mayor’s administration did not accept the assembly’s approved amended budget that reinstated funds which Bronson’s proposed budget had either removed or shifted to another area. The administration has stated repeatedly the municipality’s chief financial officer could not certify funds, based on projected revenues. The municipality has cited AMC. 6.30.050 for its reasoning:

No contract, agreement or other obligation involving the expenditure of money shall be entered into, nor shall any ordinance, resolution or order for expenditure of money be passed by the assembly or be authorized by any officer of the municipality, unless the chief fiscal officer shall first certify to the assembly or to the proper officer, as the case may be, that the money required for such contract, obligation or expenditure has been appropriated to the credit of the fund from which it is to be drawn, and not appropriated for any other purpose. Likewise, no officer of the municipality shall authorize commencement of work on any contract, agreement or obligation without first having been notified of funding approval. The sum so certified shall not thereafter be considered unencumbered until the municipality is discharged from the contract, agreement or obligation.

All moneys actually in the treasury to the credit of the fund from which they are to be drawn and all moneys applicable to the payment of the obligation or appropriation involved that are anticipated to come into the treasury before the maturity of such contract, agreement or obligation from taxes, assessments, miscellaneous revenue or from sales of property, federal or state grants, and moneys to be derived from lawfully authorized bonds, for the purpose of such certificate shall be considered in the treasury to the credit of the appropriate fund and subject to such certification.

Municipality of Anchorage- 6.30.050 - Certification of funds.

In a work session Friday, it was announced that the year-end revenues came in higher than projected by the treasury, roughly by more than $260,000.

“In December, we were able to project right on point, almost within a half a million dollars, for a budget that is proving now to be true,” said Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant. “But at the time the municipality could not certify those monies. So my question is, where is the deficiency?”

The assembly’s revenue projections proved more accurate than those from the mayor’s office. Zaletel said the mayor’s actions make the first quarter budget revisions tougher than they need to be.

“What we have to do is we have to go back and reset to the assembly-approved budget, and then we can talk about what additional revenues are available,” said Zaletel. “That is a terribly complex and onerous position for the legislative branch to be in, and it is not what we typically do.”

Frasca said that she didn’t recall the assembly getting into the “revenue projection business,” and that there is nothing wrong with the projection process that the municipality currently has in place. Others from the municipality that attended the work session said there is a lot of luck involved in projecting revenue at all.

“If we want to get into the details of this we can, or save that for another time, but I think there are some math issues, even with how you did your amendments, that you still didn’t have enough money to pay for the things that you appropriated,” Frasca said.

After the meeting, Constant said he was informed that Mayor Bronson has agreed that the administration will prepare a substitute version of first quarter amendments that uses the assembly-approved 2022 budget as the base instead, another assembly should have the substitute version by Tuesday afternoon.

There will be another work session on April 22, and public hearing on April 26 for the revised budget.

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