Assembly hears from voters on fiscal situation

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 10:38 PM AKST
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The Anchorage Assembly has been asking for feedback on a number of tax proposals as well as the city's financial situation. Tuesday night, they got just that, along with a chance to explain their own reasoning to voters in the first of three town halls.

The meeting started with an explanation of where the city's finances stand.

“Our budget is balanced, every single year,” said Jason Bockenstedt, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s Chief of Staff. “We do not run deficits, we do not overspend, we run balanced budgets."

Bockenstedt also provided some historical context for the budget.

“In the mid 1980's, about 42% of the Municipality's budget was funded by the state government,” he said.

Now, state funding accounts for less than 1% of the budget. which is why the mayor and several assembly members proposed some new ways to fund services.

Mayor Berkowitz advocated for a community dividend from the state, while assembly members talked about their versions of a potential alcohol tax.

“There were specific critiques of the prior proposal that are addressed by this new alcohol tax," said Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar, representing East Anchorage.

Assembly member Fred Dyson, representing Eagle River/Chugiak, also spoke about his temporary sales tax. Then came public comment.

“I believe that we should equally, share in taxes,” said Anne Marie Moyland, one public commenter. “Please tax me."

Moyland spoke in favor of another general sales tax, proposed by Project 20’s Anchorage, others supported the alcohol tax..

“We absolutely need an alcohol tax," said Jeff Jessie, another speaker.

Others still, argued for no tax at all, saying the city needs to spend more efficiently.

“I do not support throwing more money at problems that need to be solved, and money is not going to solve it," said Christine Hill, another public speaker.

All feedback the Assembly says they'll take into account, but also part of a bigger picture, according to Mayor Berkowitz.

“Well I think this is very early in the conversation,” he said. “This is one part of Anchorage. This is one meeting."

A picture they'll try to see fully, when they vote on these taxes, likely at the next meeting on the 14th.

For a full breakdown on the different tax proposals, and to find out where the next two town halls are, you can check

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