News from Patrick Flynn

2011 budget bits, fourth edition

Dedicated followers of municipal governance most assuredly did not watch this evening’s football game, instead employing those valuable hours cogitating on Anchorage’s 2011 budget, right?  Okay, perhaps not, but if you have been following the process I have a brief update.  First, however, two quick administrative matters:

First, unless either the prosecution or the defense employs what I believe is referred to as a “preemptive challenge,” it appears yours truly will be empaneled on a jury for the next two weeks.  It’s my understanding that I’m not permitted to discuss or divulge details, so you won’t find any here, but I wanted to let readers know as this will surely slow my response time to queries I receive.

Second, I’ve had a couple questions regarding Port matters and don’t expect our next committee meeting to occur until some time after the first of the year.  In the meantime, however, I’ve talked to the Army Corps of Engineers and they’re reportedly working on a letter discussing the aspects of the expansion project they did – and did not – review.  If and when I receive a copy of that letter I will post it here.

Returning to the budget discussion, I expect we’ll see a substitute version some time on Wednesday, December 1.  That new version takes into account the added revenue expected from the Assembly’s recent increase in tobacco taxes and purportedly makes the following changes:

  • Roughly $2.4 million of tobacco tax revenue will be used to offset (reduce) property taxes.
  • $240k to restore proposed cuts to AnchorRIDES.
  • $2.6 million to reverse the proposed moth-balling of fire trucks in Eagle River and Bear Valley.
  • About $46k to address an administrative matter with one of the city’s trust funds.
  • About $40k to reverse proposed cuts to the Northeast Community Center and Mountain View Boys & Girls Club.
  • Restoration of a proposed $10k cut to Covenant House.
  • Added money for the Federation of Community Councils (back to 2010 levels).
  • Restoration of most of the proposed cuts in community arts grants.
  • Funding for some sort of educational forum advocated for by the administration (I don’t have any details on that).

On the police front, it appears there are sufficient unspent 2010 funds and a couple other sources that will eliminate the need for any layoffs in that department and pave the way for an academy in the latter part of 2011 to help replace officers retiring from service.  I’m sure we’ll discuss that further at our Friday, December 3, work session (scheduled for noon – 1 pm).

I’m also hearing we’ll see a substitute version of the administration’s fees & fines ordinance that will sunset some of the proposed fee changes and break out the proposed increase in Solid Waste Services’ tipping fees for later discussion.  Because that tipping fee increase was slated for an April 1 implementation there’s time to work further on it.

If I correctly understand all the changes (an assumption I won’t make until I actually see the revised budget) there remain at least two gaps about which I remain concerned:

  1. Reductions to People Mover service including early-morning and late-evening runs, peak hour service and elimination of route 45G remain unchanged.
  2. The Samson-Dimond library branch, even in some sort of reduced format, remains slated for closure.  Earlier discussions of a potential rent break and/or a smaller size branch appear to have fallen through.

With that I’d like to take a moment to praise my colleagues who’ve worked diligently to improve upon the administration’s original budget proposal.  Budgets tend to be as true a reflection of a community’s priorities as anything a legislative body does and it’s never easy to balance the many competing interests.



This contribution was made on Monday, 29. November 2010 at 21:09 and was published under the category Fiscal matters. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Assemblyman Flynn,,

    Is the $20,000.00 property tax break for residential properties being applied to our property taxes this year? If so, how is this “entitlement” helping or hurting the budget? It would seem that in a time of budget shortfalls this tax break would be ended. Let me know. Thanks.

    Comment: Matt Burkkholder – 29. November 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  2. Assemblyman Flynn –

    Thank you for sharing the budget process with the public. This is a very useful tool for understanding both the process and the funding level details of the still developing budget. Kudos to you, to the other Assembly members and to the administration for working so hard on crafting a budget that reflects the communities needs and values.

    Comment: Ira Perman – 30. November 2010 @ 10:56 am

  3. Thank you for proposing sustaining fire service for eagle river and upper hillside residents. I hope with the funding of a 2011 police academy comes support for an early spring 2011 fire academy.

    Comment: Michelle Weston – 30. November 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  4. Pat,

    Regarding the port, a letter explaining what they did and did not do? What happened to the “rigorous independent review”? I though we were going to have a government certified super dock. Now we have a super dock with a conditional letter? That is quit a shift. You’d think that for a billion dollars it would come with some type of certification. I am a bit disappointed.

    Anyway, one thing you could do to really help this project get over the current little speed bump is to outline more of the underlying economics. You see, once they get this puppy up and running, all the new the shippers will come in and the money will start to flow in instead of out. Maybe you could get the planners down at the port to outline when the revenue start to flow into the city coffers and how much profit we can expect each year. All this positive cash flow could go to helping with the city budget in these lean times.

    I have a buddy who went to a big university in the lower 48 and learned all about business. He said that the port probably has a business plan for this big expansion and this plan would include something called ROI or return on investment. Maybe you could ask the port for the business plan and the ROI and post these on your web sight?

    I don’t know much about fancy economics and all but this one seems simple to me. See the investment part is simple – it’s free. We just politicked a bunch of good ole free federal money right into the local economy and it doesn’t cost us one red cent. The return part kicks in when the shippers show upon and start paying fees to use the new super dock. This should go straight to the city. All we really need to figure this out is a list of the new ships and how much they pay each time they pull up to the port.

    Well anyway, once people see the underlying economics 101 on this, all these little problems with the super dock jiggling around, the QC repairs, the government certifications etc will seem insignificant.

    I appreciate the work you are putting into this.

    Rudy Lachinski

    Comment: Rudy Lachinski – 01. December 2010 @ 10:07 am

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