Mayor Bronson issues vetoes to Anchorage Assembly’s 2023 budget

Mayor Bronson issues vetoes to Anchorage Assembly’s 2023 budget
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 8:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The office of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson released a list of the mayor’s vetoes to the assembly’s budget late Tuesday afternoon.

Items that were vetoed include $445,000 in annual funding for Brother Francis Shelter, which provides temporary housing and services for Anchorage’s homeless population. In a memo regarding the vetoes, Mayor Bronson stated his reason for vetoing funds that would allow the shelter to permanently increase its capacity was that he did not believe the organization would be able to render the necessary services.

“While I support the efforts of the Brother Francis Shelter and the work they provide to compassionately address those individuals experiencing homelessness, Brother Francis Shelter will not be able to comply with the terms as stated in this amendment. The organization has expressly stated that they are committed to sticking to their 120-client capacity for the foreseeable future,” the memo said.

The same reason was provided for his veto of a second set of funding for Brother Francis’ plans to use $730,000 in annual funds that would be implemented to increase services for adults. An additional $730,000 to provide for the shelter’s non-labor needs was also vetoed, despite the city identifying Brother Francis as a vital component of the municipality’s response to issues surrounding homelessness.

Also vetoed was a $65,000 expenditure that would provide for additional security for Anchorage Assembly meetings. Instead, Bronson approved only $20,928 — equal to the amount the municipality is spending under the Maintenance & Operations department’s current security contract with Securitas Security Services.

Bronson also said that if $65,000 is removed from the Maintenance & Operations budget, “there will be a security reduction across further facilities such as: city hall, library branches, Fairview recreation center, Spenard recreation center, Health Department building” and others.

A $150,000 appropriation to provide technical assistance for applicants of alcohol tax grants was also vetoed by the mayor, who cited separation of power principles. According to Bronson’s memo, this is an attempt by the assembly to override separations of power.

The item, Bronson’s memo says, “seeks to upend this constitutionally mandated division between legislative and executive powers, by appropriating $150,000 for year 2023 to the ‘Legislative’ branch so that the legislative branch may usurp the Health Department’s implementation and administration role, by having itself provide technical assistance to Alcohol Tax grant applicants going forward. This is untenable.”

Earlier this year, the assembly earmarked Health Department funds to provide the same service. Bronson reasons, however, that as the legislative branch of the municipal government, they are not to perform the duties of any other branch — namely the executive.

“It would be entirely proper for the Assembly to appropriate funds to enable the Health Department to continue to provide technical assistance to Alcohol Tax grant applicants in the coming year. However, it is constitutionally impermissible for the Assembly to take over the implementation and administrative roles of the Executive Branch,” Bronson said.

The Anchorage Assembly passed the largest yet municipal budget on Nov. 22, including a number of amendments. The Assembly is expected to override the mayor’s vetoes at the next assembly meeting, scheduled for Dec. 6.