News from Patrick Flynn

A boring budget?

If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch or listen to Alaska Edition (formerly Anchorage Edition) on KAKM or KSKA please allow me to recommend it.  Even if you aren’t a news junkie like me it’s particularly nice to see Paul Jenkins offering thoughtful commentary befitting his status as an elder statesman of Alaska journalism, rather than the sometimes-bizarre screeds he writes for the local paper.  But I digress.

Readers surely know that the mayor unveiled his proposed budget a little over a week ago and it will be officially introduced at our next meeting (October 11).  What I found interesting about the most recent episode of Alaska Edition was KTUU‘s Steve MacDonald recounting the mayor’s pre-release visit with his news team. 

Brief insider aside here: prior to making significant announcements it’s not uncommon for politicians to brief media outlets ahead of time with the understanding that the information is “embargoed” until the “official” announcement.  This benefits the media in that they get a deeper understanding of the issues and can produce much of their story ahead of time.  Politicians benefit by getting an opportunity to frame the story with their perspective.

MacDonald recalls the mayor describing his proposed 2012 budget as “boring.”  Cuts are primarily absorbed by administrative adjustments to things like leave cash-outs, the cost of paying a retiring employee the balance of their vacation time, down to historical levels.  Given that the mayor is up for re-election next year that’s smart politics; if no one’s ox is getting gored they’re less likely to raise cain like they have the past two years.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t holes in the proposal, and the Assembly is slated to begin our review in the coming weeks.  One line in the Parks & Recreation budget reads as follows:

Delete 3 full time Recreation Program Specialist II positions and create 4 part time Recreation Program Specialist II postions

That line-item purportedly reduces the budget by $144,607 but fans of the Tuesday Night Races and other parks-related programs feel the move jeopardizes program viability (there was a letter to the editor in the 10/8 edition of our local paper, but I can’t find it on-line; odd…).  We’ll dig into matters like those in the weeks ahead and I’ll share what I learn.  Similarly, please let me know your questions and concerns and I’ll try to ferret out the information.



This contribution was made on Sunday, 09. October 2011 at 07:22 and was published under the category Fiscal matters. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Pat,
    When I listened to the press conference I thought the Mayor said he was eliminating some positions. These positions were already vacant and for that reason not going to effect anyone. My question is: Are those positions needed or just vacant? Is any one asking this question? Thanks.

    Comment: Matt Burkholder – 09. October 2011 @ 8:02 am

  2. Alluding to the comment above, it has come to my attention that this proposal does NOT just affect already vacant positions. And while I think people losing their jobs should be a very important consideration, particularly when it involves laying off experienced, dedicated staff just to avoid paying a full time salary and benefits to turn around and hire people part time staff is simply mercenary; it is not the most important consideration.
    But I digress, the most important reason why I am absolutely opposed to this particular provision is, as is mentioned, it would jeopardize several important programs that are hugely attended and loved by the community including Tuesday night races and children’s ski and other programs. It is incredibly short-sighted to view these programs simply as monetary costs when their benefits to the community and the investment they make in our children are so incalculably great.
    My understanding from a recent article in the ADN is that there will be a public hearing about the budget on October 25th – – please let me know or post where and what time that will be held so that I can attend to voice my concerns personally. Also can you clarify from the above article if the assembly meeting on October 11th where this will be officially introduced is open to the public.
    Thank you.

    Comment: Meg Perdue – 09. October 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  3. Ms. Perdue,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. The meeting on the 11th is open to the public but, because the budget proposal is only being introduced, there will not be an opportunity for public comment at that time. There will be public hearings on the budget on October 25, November 8 and November 22, in each case some time after 6 pm at Assembly chambers in the Loussac library.



    Comment: Patrick Flynn – 09. October 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  4. Mr Flynn
    I hope you will consider not supporting any attempt to eliminate the three full time Recreation Program Specialist positions to create four part time positions. These positions are filled by professionals that run programs that improve the quality of life for those who live within are community. Kids programs such as Adventure Camp and Junior Nordic are important to the families of this city and should be managed by a trained professional not a part time employee. Tue night races are a big part of the community for both kids and adults and deserve the attention and quality of professionalism we have seen in the past from a full time Recreation Specialist employee.
    Quality of life is important to us all Mr Flynn, once again, I hope you will not support the elimination of these positions.
    Dave Shuman

    Comment: Dave Shuman – 09. October 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  5. Hi! I gave you a “Liebster” blog award today. I like the work you’re doing with this blog–a good way to communicate with your constituents, and it broadens the ways people think of blogs.

    Comment: Heather Christensen – 17. October 2011 @ 3:44 pm

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