Election: Anchorage plans to borrow money to make payroll

Anchorage ambulance races through Spenard. (YouTube screen shot. Alex Alverson video)


If you’re in Anchorage, by all means don’t bother to vote today. Your taxes will likely go up by the ballot marks of others.

An example of what might pass if you skip out on your civic duty is a $23 million property tax increase disguised as a $650,000 purchase of two ambulances.

Proposition 2, the ambulance bond, is possibly the sneakiest bond proposition in Anchorage history.

Prop 2 starts out innocently enough, but is asking voters to pay for a lot of things they can’t really see in the ballot language or anywhere else on the Anchorage municipality’s new web site.

Voters believe they are funding two ambulances for $650,000. There are some vaguely referenced transit vehicles (these may be buses, but we aren’t told) for a total cost of $1.65 in the principal amount of general obligation bonds.

But the real cost is $24 million.

Without knowing it, voters choosing yes on Prop. 2 will be increasing the tax cap, because by approving the capital expenditures, they’ll also be approving the operating expenses with them: 14 firefighter positions for the next 10 years.

That’s 14 union firefighter positions.

“This is a sneaky deal — adding staff to a bond,” said Assembly member Amy Demboski. “I voted no on this in the Assembly for even putting it on the ballot because it’s my pet peeve: You don’t add staff to a bond.”

Demboski isn’t the only one. While she is particularly concerned for those living outside the center of Anchorage who will get no benefit from the bond, others have voiced concerns as well.

Former Mayors Rick Mystrom, George Wuerch, Tom Fink and Dan Sullivan all oppose Proposition 2.

In a radio ad airing in recent days, Mystrom says:

“This bond issue avoids the tax cap by lumping massive labor costs into a small bond proposal. The Prop 2 proposal looks pretty innocent: $650,00 for two ambulances. But 10 years later, the taxpayers will have paid almost $24 million in property taxes for this deceptively small bond proposal,” Mystrom said. “This tactic bypasses the tax cap and squeezes millions of new taxes from homeowners.”


The line to vote at the Loussac Library in Anchorage at 9 am today was noteworthy in one particular way: There was no line. In a span of 10 minutes, only one person cast a ballot. The 10 election workers were falling all over themselves to help the one voter at the door.

But Anchorage residents can be certain that both municipal and school employees will be out in force at the polls, voting to raise taxes on residents and bust through the tax cap.

Polls are open until 8 pm. Your dirty hair can wait.