Anchorage Mayor Bronson veto nearly all Assembly changes to the 2022 city budget

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson on Tuesday vetoed nearly every change made by the Anchorage Assembly to its proposed $ 550 million municipal budget.

The assembly unanimously approved the city’s 2022 operating budget last week after making more than a dozen changes. Bronson had proposed cutting $ 7.4 million from the budget, and the Assembly changes restored funding for many of the cuts, including for the Mobile Crisis Team, the school resource officer program in the school district, grants for the prevention of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence, and early childhood education funding, among other changes.

Bronson reversed many of those changes on Tuesday. The vetoes will keep next year’s budget in line with his administration’s priorities of “public safety, an economically prosperous and business-friendly community, compassionately resolving homeless crises, minimizing impacts on services at home. public while seeking savings, reorganizing for efficiency and effective government and aligning costs to better represent responsible / paying costs, ”Bronson said in a statement.

The vetoes will also put the city’s budget below the $ 110,000 tax cap, according to the mayor’s office.

The House can vote to overrule Bronson’s vetoes with a qualified majority of eight votes. Assembly leadership said a meeting would be scheduled to consider overriding the vetoes.

Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, a sponsor of Assembly budget changes, said that while it is not known whether members will vote to override vetoes, most of the budget changes made by the Assembly la last week were passed with eight or more votes.

“The amended budget was passed unanimously, which is very rare,” Dunbar said. “Bronson had the opportunity here to show unity and work with the Assembly, but instead he protected his increased number of middle managers and political appointees and rolled back all investments in this area. public security that the Assembly was trying to achieve. “

Assembly members and the Bronson administration clashed several times during the amendment process last week, including over a proposal by Dunbar and Member Austin Quinn-Davidson to cut a leadership position and a political appointment position in the mayor’s office. The Assembly eventually became compromised after the Bronson administration fought to retain the positions.

[Read Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s full veto memorandums here, here and here.]

Changes under the mayor’s veto include:

• Retain $ 1 million in funding for health service personnel from the alcohol tax budget. The Assembly had moved it to the budget of the Ministry of Health.

• The Assembly restored full funding to the Mayor’s Community Grants program. Bronson reversed this in order to keep the budget under the tax cap, according to the veto.

• Bronson vetoed $ 1.2 million in funding for the School Resource Officer program in the Anchorage School District. He wants the school district to reimburse the city for the program, rather than making the city pay for the police. The Assembly had restored city funding for the program for five months, until the end of the school year.

• The mayor vetoed the Assembly’s reinstatement of more than $ 1.5 million in funding for the fire department’s mobile crisis team. Bronson wants the funding cut in half and shifted to the police department because the police have a similar program. The Assembly wants to keep the program fully funded and in the fire department. (The fire department’s mobile crisis team sends a mental health clinician with a paramedic to respond to behavioral health calls.)

• The mayor vetoed the Assembly’s reduction in alcohol tax funds for a homeless shelter, day center and treatment center, citing an immediate need for the homeless population. -shelter.

[The city wants to build a big new snow dump in West Anchorage’s Connor’s Bog. Some neighbors say it’s a bad idea.]

• Bronson vetoed several other items in the city’s budget, including the Assembly’s increase in alcohol tax funds for grants to prevent child abuse, sexual assault and violence. domestic and part of the increased grants for early childhood education.

• Bronson vetoed several elements of the city’s utility and capital improvement budgets, including $ 2.3 million in obligations in the 2022 Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Budget.

Last week, several members of the assembly said the Bronson administration underestimated sources of municipal tax revenue, including tourist tax and alcohol tax, and used increased revenue estimates. to justify some of their budget changes.

In a statement justifying the vetoes, Bronson cited his concern over a recent drop in the city’s bond rating as the reason for some of the vetoes. Members of the Assembly wondered why the drop had occurred and whether the Bronson administration had accurately characterized the city’s financial position in its presentation. The mayor also said the new variant of the omicron coronavirus could affect the city’s future income.

“Without a valid funding source and with the new COVID variant and bond rating issues, my administration cannot validate or certify the funding source increases that the Assembly attempted to include in their amendments,” said Bronson.

Dunbar on Tuesday challenged the idea that the city is in a precarious financial situation and accused Bronson of using the new COVID-19 variant and lowering the bond rating to advance its political agenda.

“He uses this as an excuse to follow through on his ideological priorities. We have the funding sources next year, ”Dunbar said. Initial estimates of alcohol tax revenue were conservative, and even with the delta variant in circulation, the tax “significantly exceeded projections,” he said.

“We have at least two important sources of funding to fill this gap if this happens,” Dunbar said. “But again, we’re talking about a very small amount of money compared to the overall budget, something like $ 3 million compared to a budget of over $ 500 million.”

Those stopgaps include more federal funds from the US bailout and the city’s confidence, which the assembly could vote to increase the city’s payment, Dunbar said.

Comments are closed.