Anchorage Assembly members look to restore funding to public safety, school resource officer programs
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some Anchorage Assembly members are looking to restore funding that was cut out of Mayor Dave Bronson’s first quarter budget revisions. Many assembly members were confused and upset last week that the administration was not using the assembly’s approved 2022 operating budget.
Last fall, the mayor and the assembly traded vetoes and veto overrides for the 2022 operating budget. The mayor and assembly disagreed on what items could be funded based on revenue projections. After much discussion and debate at last week’s work session, the administration agreed to use a substitute version of the assembly’s approved budget as a baseline for revisions.
“First of all I want to thank you to the administration for providing that S (Substitute) version,” said assembly member Forrest Dunbar.
Now, with revenues higher than projected, and an increased operating budget of roughly $560 million, assembly members are looking to restore funding.
The first budget amendment introduced at the work session by Finance Committee Co-Chairs Austin Quinn-Davidson and Dunbar appropriates more than $1.7 million from the Alcohol Tax Program Budget to restore funding to crisis intervention training for Girdwood Fire and Rescue and the Whittier Police Department, maintains increases to the budget for evidence based grants to providers for child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence prevention programs, and maintains funding for the Mobile Crisis Team to make it 24/7.
“The great news is, is that once you are 24/7, there is no waiting period. You can start to bill Medicaid right away,” said assembly member Meg Zaletel.
Another budget amendment from Quinn-Davidson and Dunbar appropriates roughly $2.3 million from the the General Operating Budget to fully fund the Anchorage School District school resource program (additional 9 months). The Bronson administration proposed the school district cover 75 percent of the cost of the program.
“I think we do have a strong support for the SRO program here, and we should not shift those costs onto the school district,” Dunbar said.
In a press release, the Anchorage School District said:
“The Anchorage School District Administration and the Anchorage School Board respectfully request the Anchorage Assembly continue to fully fund the Anchorage Police Department, to include all School Resource Officer positions. SRO’s play a key role in campus and community safety, their service to our schools and Municipality is greatly appreciated. ASD wishes to maintain its focus on education via our broadly supported strategic plan which prioritizes gains in reading proficiency, math proficiency, and college, career and life readiness. The Board has identified a potential utilization plan for the $2.3 million cost savings to fund 23 FTE in our largest and/or combined classrooms”
“The mayor’s proposed budget is about 10 million dollars larger than the budget we passed in the fall. that growth in the budget mostly went to mostly police and fire, we don’t cut any of that,” Dunbar said.
The administration has proposed increasing funding for fire and police in the budget revisions. Dunbar said that will not be impacted with these amendments.
“The mayor’s proposed budget is about $10 million larger than the budget we passed in the fall — the 2022 budget — and that growth in the budget I think mostly went to mostly police and fire, also pools. We don’t cut any of that,” Dunbar said.
Other amendments introduced Friday were funding for the Anchorage Police Department and Fire Department to help recruit officers and increase personnel. Another amendment appropriated money to the clerk’s office for the June 2022 Special Election. All the amendments will de discussed further and possibly approved at Tuesday’s assembly meeting.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.
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