Anchorage Assembly members seek to restore funding for public safety and school resource officer programs

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Some Anchorage Assembly members are seeking to restore funding that was cut during Mayor Dave Bronson’s first quarter budget revisions. Many assembly members were confused and upset last week that the administration was not using the assembly’s approved operating budget for 2022.

Last fall, the mayor and assembly traded vetoes and veto waivers for the 2022 operating budget. The mayor and assembly disagreed on what items could be funded based on revenue projections. After much discussion and debate over the past week working sessionthe administration agreed to use an alternate version of the budget approved by the assembly as a reference for the revisions.

“First of all, I want to thank the administration for providing this S (alternate) version,” said assemblyman Forrest Dunbar.

Now, with higher-than-expected revenues and an increased operating budget of about $560 million, Assembly members are looking to restore funding.

The first one budget amendment presented at the working session by finance committee co-chairs Austin Quinn-Davidson and Dunbar allocates more than $1.7 million from the liquor tax program budget to restore funding for crisis intervention training for Girdwood Fire and Rescue and the Whittier Police Department, maintains budget increases for evidence-based grants to child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence prevention program providers, and maintains funding of the Mobile Crisis Team to be available 24/7.

“The good news is that once you are 24/7, there is no longer a waiting period. You can start billing Medicaid right away,” said Meg Zaletel, member of the Assembly.

Another Quinn-Davidson and Dunbar budget amendment allocates approximately $2.3 million from the general operating budget to fully fund the Anchorage School District’s School Resource Program (an additional 9 months). The Bronson administration proposed that the school district cover 75% of the cost of the program.

“I think we have strong support for the SRO program here, and we shouldn’t pass those costs onto the school district,” Dunbar said.

In a press release, the Anchorage School District said:

“The Anchorage School District Administration and the Anchorage School Board respectfully request that the Anchorage Assembly continue to fully fund the Anchorage Police Department, including all School Resource Officer positions. . SROs play a key role in campus and community safety, their service to our schools and the municipality is greatly appreciated. ASD wants to maintain its focus on education through our widely supported strategic plan that prioritizes gains in reading, math, and college, career, and life readiness. The board has identified a potential utilization plan for cost savings of $2.3 million to fund 23 FTEs in our largest and/or combined classrooms”

(645 6895 17.22.13 “the mayor’s proposed budget is approximately $10 million higher than the budget we passed in the fall. this budget growth has primarily gone to police and fire departments. we are not reducing Nothing of the sort.

The administration has proposed increased funding for firefighters and police in budget reviews. Dunbar said these changes would not be affected.

“The mayor’s proposed budget is about $10 million higher than the budget we passed in the fall — the 2022 budget — and that budget growth, I think, has mostly gone to police and fire, as well as swimming pools. We’re not cutting any of that,” Dunbar said,

Other amendments introduced on Friday related to funding for the Anchorage Police Department and Fire Department to help recruit officers and increase personnel. Another amendment earmarked funds for the Clerk’s office for the June 2022 special election. All amendments will be further discussed and possibly approved at Tuesday’s assembly meeting.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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