The Anchorage Assembly meeting on Wednesday is likely to be calmer than recent ones, if only because the public won’t be attending. The Assembly is enforcing a limit on public participation. No more than 125 will be allowed into the Assembly Chambers, due to the Assembly’s new rules, although there are many items of public interest, including the proposed 2022 budget.
Also, face masks must be worn by everyone during all meetings of the Assembly, whether it’s in the chambers, or the next-door Wilda Marston theater, which will be limited to 150 people.
The Assembly is taking up a resolution concerning the homelessness plan that has been under negotiation for months.
After Mayor Dave Bronson was elected, he proposed a plan for dealing with the drug- and alcohol-fueled homelessness situation in Anchorage. For over a year and a half, homeless people have been housed in the Sullivan Arena, where hockey games used to be played. The cost for operating the Sullivan as a homeless shelter is about $3 million a month; currently 420 people are sheltering at night in the facility, at a cost of more than $7,000 per person, per month.
The Assembly refused to entertain Bronson’s homelessness plan after his election, which the liberal majority opposed. The plan involved a navigation center to get the people the services they need — drug treatment, medical treatment, housing, and jobs. Instead, the Assembly dug in its heels, but finally accepted an offer from the mayor to negotiate.
Tonight’s plan to be considered by the Assembly is the result of over 22 meetings, each running several hours, mediated by retired Admiral Tom Barrett.
The Assembly sent three members to these meetings — Meg Zaletel, Chris Constant, and John Weddleton. From the Mayor’s Office, Craig Campbell, Larry Baker, and John Morris represented.
If the policy passes the Assembly tonight, there’s still a lot of work to be done to finalize a plan, and because of the Assembly delays, the Sullivan will remain the mass homeless shelter for the winter, as long as FEMA money keeps coming. That agenda item is explained more here.
Also on the agenda for the meeting is approving an item to create a improvement district for Midtown Anchorage. Improvement districts allow special taxes to be levied for the purpose of improving the area, much in the way downtown Anchorage has been improved by such a taxing device.
The Assembly intends to spend $100,000 of federal ARPA Covid relief money to set up the special taxing district.
The Assembly will also take public testimony on an ordinance that would require the mayor to bring his appointees forward for confirmation immediately, or as soon as the Assembly requests it. That ordinance is being offered because the liberal majority on the Assembly want to axe some of the mayor’s appointees, who serve in a temporary capacity until they are approved by the Assembly.
The specific language is: “An appointment for a principal executive or department head position subject to assembly confirmation may be scheduled for a confirmation hearing and set on a meeting agenda for a confirmation vote by the assembly chair at any time after such person is hired or receives compensation for the position, or is otherwise serving in the position in a provisional, temporary, or acting capacity. Submittal of a memorandum from the mayor or designee is not a prerequisite for this action by the chair, and lack of such memorandum does not preclude a confirmation vote.”
Several appointees of the mayor are also up for confirmation during the meeting, including Dan Zipay for Solid Waste Services, Bradly Coy, Municipal Traffic Engineer, Joe Gerace, Health Department Director, and James Winegarner, Director of Real Estate
The Assembly will also open public testimony on the mayor’s proposed budget. The Assembly intends to get that portion of the meeting started by 8 pm. Those items include:
|FIRST PUBLIC HEARING: Ordinance No. AO 2021-97, an ordinance adopting the 2022 General Government Capital Improvement Budget, Office of Management and Budget.14.B.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 605-2021.|
|14.C.||FIRST PUBLIC HEARING: Resolution No. AR 2021-323, a resolution adopting the 2022-2027 General Government Capital Improvement Program, Office of Management and Budget. 14.C.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 606-2021.|
|14.D.||FIRST PUBLIC HEARING: Resolution No. AR 2021-324, a resolution adopting the 2022-2027 Six Year Fiscal Program, Office of Management and Budget.14.D.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 607-2021.|
|14.F.||FIRST PUBLIC HEARING: Resolution No. AR 2021-325, a resolution approving the 2022-2027 Municipal Utilities/Enterprise Activities Capital Improvement Programs, Office of Management and Budget. 14.F.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 609-2021.|
|14.I.||FIRST PUBLIC HEARING: Ordinance No. AO 2021-105, an ordinance amending Anchorage Municipal Code Sections 26.80.050 and 26.80.070 to increase rates for the Solid Waste Services Disposal Utility.14.I.1. Assembly Memorandum No. AM 639-2021.|