News from Patrick Flynn

Budget comments

Tonight, December 8, the Assembly is about to pass a municipal budget for 2010.  I spent a great deal of time on this one and the version that ultimately passed had my name on it, but it wasn’t really mine.

It has been said that budgets are the ultimate public policy documents.  They reflect a community’s priorities; what is funded, what isn’t and what the citizenry can expect in return for their tax dollars.  This budget was complicated by two embedded public policy decisions; the use of state funding for services rather than tax relief, and the plan to “refund” bond payments (essentially deferring some of 2010’s bond principle payments into the future).  While I have concerns about both there were not enough Assembly votes, short of shuttering city government (something the mayor expressed a willingness to do), to deny the mayor these aspects.

While I certainly had the option of standing aside, arms crossed in defiance, watching Anchorage figuratively melt around me I instead spent the past several weeks seeking enough common ground with my colleagues to address the most troublesome gaps in the mayor’s budget proposal.  Based on the messages from friends and neighbors gaps remain – some partially filled, others gaping – but I did my best.

What remains, for good or for ill, is clearly Dan Sullivan’s budget.  I expect he will opine that further cuts will be required next year, and that the fault lies with the prior administration and the Assembly but, at best, that’s only half the story.  Instead, the budget is structured to limit the future tax capacity of our city and this will play a significant role in forcing cuts as costs increase.  If you prefer lower taxes and less services this is a good thing.  If you value city services it isn’t.

So while I’m pleased we appear to have preserved some funding for public transit, community programs and libraries, I suspect this discussion is a long way from finished.  We’ll see where it goes from here.



This contribution was made on Tuesday, 08. December 2009 at 19:55 and was published under the category Fiscal matters. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. With my lack of knowledge on the overall budget balanced with my feelings of how we actually got to this point, I like the leader ship a member (you) of the assembly has shown here. You did all you can do it would seem.

    Thank you.

    Del Baldwin

    Comment: Del Baldwin – 08. December 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  2. Thank you Patrick. You pushed through and worked hard at it.

    Comment: Jillanne – 08. December 2009 @ 9:45 pm

  3. Count me as one who values city services but thinks propertty owners should not be the only source of revenue. I appreciate what you have done to nudge some important expenditures into the budget and I hope the Mayor can live with the changes, too.

    Oh, and because of your efforts, the budget that has your name on it is YOURS!

    Comment: donnliston – 09. December 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  4. Thanks. How about a charter amendment to take the majority on taxes back to 50% as the charter originally intended. Then, with a good public education program, perhaps we should consider a sales tax to reduce property taxes.

    Comment: hf – 10. December 2009 @ 8:20 pm

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