Anchorage mayor discusses staffing shortage and possible resignation of IT director

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson discusses staffing shortage and possible resignation of IT Director
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 4:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The alarming number of unfilled positions with the Municipality of Anchorage was one of the key takeaways from Mayor Dave Bronson’s gathering with the media Tuesday morning at City Hall, along with one municipal employee who is still on administrative leave.

From parks and recreation to the police department, Bronson said the municipality is struggling to recruit and retain employees.

An official with the Anchorage Police Department said its department has more than 70 unfilled positions — 51 sworn positions (cops) and 22 non-sworn positions.

Newly appointed chief fiscal officer Alden Thern said this year the municipality lost over half of its accounting department.

The CFO said some departments are using overtime to cover unfilled positions and also mentioned the Assembly-approved funding for open positions to be filled by contractors.

“I think the Assembly authorized about $2 million to be used for external contractors and so forth. We’ve worked very hard and very diligently not to have to use that,” Thern said.

The police department said it is providing the same level of service, but there is less “down time” for self-initiated activity and officers are working more overtime. Additionally, there may be a delay in response to non-emergency calls, as priority one calls — those that involve life-threatening components — take priority.

Bronson said part of the problem is a competitive job market. He said the state and private market are paying more than the municipality. The mayor said he has directed human resources to do a city-wide salary survey.

“From that — which we hope will be completed soon — we can get to the point where we can start paying more competitively our municipal employees. So that’s the source of this problem,” Bronson said.

At the gathering, Bronson was asked about the current status of information and technology director Marc Dahl.

Ombudsman Darrel Hess’s final investigation report recommended the administration terminate the employment of the IT director for his involvement in a plan to possibly overturn some results of the April 4 municipal election.

“I think [the Department of Law] is taking care of that. I don’t believe he has resigned as of today,” Bronson said.

The mayor’s administration has been discussing the possibility of Dahl resigning for nearly two weeks now.

A spokesperson for Bronson said Dahl is still on unpaid administrative leave, and the mayor has instructed the law department to work in collaboration with human resources on the matter. The mayor expects “this matter to be resolved very soon.”

Also at the gathering, Mayor Bronson gave an update on the emergency cold weather shelter plan and the possibility of the now vacant solid waste services administrative building being used as a 150-bed temporary shelter this winter.

He also announced the departure of Office of Management and Budget Director Courtney Petersen. Bronson said Petersen will be transitioning next month to the Community Development Department to be the Public Works Administration Manager.