Anchorage Assembly discusses issuing bonds to rely less on state government support

Published: Jan. 15, 2019 at 8:37 PM AKST
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Coinciding with the start of the Alaska State Legislature Tuesday was the first Anchorage Assembly meeting of 2019.

The Assembly begins the year with a goal to wean the City of Anchorage off of state government support. Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar says that will mean using General Obligation Bonds to finance improvements and repairs across the Municipality.

"It's also why we need to pass bonds to have critical maintenance,” Dunbar said. “If the state isn't going to help us with critical road maintenance, then we have to do it ourselves."

The Assembly brought several bond proposals to the floor Tuesday. Arguably the most consequential proposal involved the

to help repair schools impacted by the Nov. 30 earthquake, namely Greuning Middle School and Eagle River Elementary. The board’s proposal would bring the cost of capital improvements to the Anchorage School District up to $59,113,000.

Dunbar says the request is fair and has a chance of passing on the ballot in April.

"I think the school district and the school board have done a good job of limiting what they're asking for on the school bond, generally, to things like roof repair, security, ventilation, things that are really necessary repairs,” Dunbar said. “And the people of Anchorage have generally voted for the school bond, although sometimes they haven’t.”

The caveat is, Anchorage taxpayers would have to make up the difference. When the resolution hit the Assembly floor Tuesday, one person was there to give public testimony, questioning the rehabilitation of school buildings in areas at risk to earthquake damage.

“This rebuilding, this going to the public and asking for funds to rebuild, and rebuild where?” Mat-Su resident Eugene Carl Haberman said. “These schools, you’re looking for $55 million dollars from the public to be rebuilt in high-risk areas. If they’re in high-risk areas, we need to take immediate steps to not put children in harm’s way.”

The Assembly voted unanimously to combine the two resolutions — the original request of $55,113,000 and the amended version tacking on another $4 million, and open it up for public testimony at the next Assembly meeting Jan. 29.

Other proposals would use bonds for Parks and Recreation maintenance and operations, improvements to the Anchorage Roads and Drainages Service Area, Anchorage Fire Service Area, and the Anchorage Metropolitan Police Service Area.