News from Patrick Flynn

DID done, budget coming

The biggest issues at our September 28 Assembly meeting involved the Downtown Business Improvement District (DID); both the 2010 assessment for the existing DID and the continuation/expansion until 2020.  (See “Downtown dust-up” for more background.)  The former, as it typically does, passed unanimously while the latter passed 8-3 with dissent led by South Anchorage’s Chris Birch, and there’s an interesting story there.

As I mentioned previously one of the most common complaints voiced by those in the current DID revolves around the western boundary drawn in 1997, which excluded several prominent, high-value properties.  In the years I’ve been on the Assembly members have responded to those protests with agreement and told complainants that we’d instruct the Anchorage Downtown Partnership to rectify the situation during the 2010 renewal petition process, which we did and they did.  That said, a representative of the owner of two buildings in the extended area of the DID obtained copies of every returned petition and tabulated the weighted voting results of the “annexed” properties at 37% in favor.  He did not, however, offer a breakdown of the opposition – meaning those who opposed the DID versus those who simply did not respond and thus count as “no” votes.  (One further note; because this petition was calculated on a DID-wide basis neither the administration nor the Anchorage Downtown Partnership tabulated votes in this manner.  If the aforementioned representative’s arithmetic was somehow in error, something I do not presume, no one was in a position to provide clarifying information.)

Because Mr. Birch’s district includes much of the Hillside area that, until the mid-1990’s, avoided paying taxes supporting Anchorage Police Department due to their property lying outside APD’s service area he was vocally troubled by the lack of a majority vote in the new DID area.

A little more history here.  At the urging of then-mayor Mystrom, the Hillside was added to the APD service area by an overwhelming area-wide affirmative vote (roughly 2-1) on Proposition 14 in 1996.  As I recall, Mystrom’s logic was two-fold:

  1. While the Alaska State Troopers may have been officially responsible for public safety on the Hillside, APD frequently had to respond to serious emergencies due to a lack of Trooper resources.
  2. The vast majority of Hillside residents spent at least a portion of their days within the APD service area (shopping, working, etc.) and therefore benefited from APD’s service.

In sum, it was a cost-causer/cost-payer argument.  After the election a lawsuit filed in an effort to overturn the results led to a count of votes from within the area to be annexed and (surprise) Proposition 14 had failed in the Hillside area by a more than 3-1 margin.  Despite that, the court ruled the results would stand and all property north of McHugh Creek would be taxed to pay for APD service.

Subsequent to the election and court decision Hillside legislators, then-Representative Con Bunde and then-Senator Sean Parnell, filed legislation requiring changes to service area boundaries to achieve majority votes from both the entire new service area and those within the area to be added.  It took five years, four different bills, three legislatures and one gubernatorial veto, but Representative Bunde’s proposal was finally signed into law by Governor Frank Murkowski in 2001.  That means, for example, that the Anchorage Road Drainage & Service Area, which builds and maintains local roads within the Anchorage bowl, cannot annex any of the 20+ road service areas that checkerboard the Hillside (or for that matter, those outside any service area) unless all ARDSA voters and those within the area to be annexed vote in the affirmative.

And remember, it was Mayor Mystrom who originally engineered the formation of the DID.

Returning to Tuesday evening, as a special assessment district the DID is not subject to the state law authored by Representative Bunde but Mr. Birch, who apparently still feels the sting of that 1996 decision, felt the principle should nonetheless be upheld.  While both he and Bill Starr, who has indicated the Business Improvement District concept might be worth exploring for the core area of Eagle River, were originally leaning toward voting in favor of the DID renewal they ultimately opposed it on those grounds.  (Jennifer Johnson, who also voted no, wasn’t likely to vote yes anyway.)


Later today (Friday, October 1) the mayor will release his 2011 budget proposal and the Assembly’s biggest job of any year will commence.  While the mayor has complained about pre-release rhetoric from the police union, his team has also sought to frame the discussion to its advantage in recent months.  In other words, a grain of salt may be in order for all concerned.

Finally, my proposal to codify the conditional use requirements placed on downtown package (liquor) stores will be on the agenda at our October 12 meeting.  You can review that ordinance here.



This contribution was made on Friday, 01. October 2010 at 01:01 and was published under the category Coming events, Fiscal matters, Neighborhoods. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

«  –  »

1 Comment

  1. Good work for a good program.

    Comment: hf – 01. October 2010 @ 8:19 am

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.



Community councils


Local government


State government


RSS Feeds – Admin


Copyright - Patrick Flynn, All Rights Reserved