Five things you should know about the Anchorage bond package - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019
HomeThe 907Five things you should know about the Anchorage bond package

Five things you should know about the Anchorage bond package

(4-minute read) SCHOOL, ROAD BONDS FALL ON TAXPAYERS, NOT STATE

Anchorage voters face a decision about whether to approve bonds during the municipal election, which ends April 2.

Here are five things you should know about the Anchorage bonds

1. If they pass, your property taxes will go up further. A homeowner with a valuation of $300,000 currently pays about $4,035 in property tax (this varies) and would pay nearly $81 more per year if all six bonds pass. Renters will see this additional cost passed along in higher monthly rent ($6.75 is the amount that would cover it).

2. The municipality currently carries $1.06 billion in voter-approved debt. Over half of that is school construction debt.

3. The ballot that voters have in the mail by now asks them to add an additional  $113.1 million to Anchorage’s outstanding debt, for a total of $1.17 billion owed by property taxpayers — an increase of 11%.

4. The $59 million in school bonds is not eligible for state debt service support. Debt service will fall entirely onto the shoulders of local property owners. Moreover, the State is considering reducing or eliminating debt service support for school bonds from past years, which would sharply increase local property taxes even without adding any new school construction debt.

5. Some of the bond measures will bump up the tax cap, because they include language for ongoing operations and maintenance. Bumping up the tax cap will lead to higher taxes next year. The city’s current budget is the highest in history at $522 million.

Here are the propositions that would add to Anchorage homeowners’ and renters’ tax burden. Note:  Must Read Alaska is using a $300,000 valuation, rather than the $100,000 valuation used by the city. The average home value in Anchorage id $331,000.

[Want the full description of each bond? Check the Municipality’s website here]

Proposition 1: $59,113,000 capital improvement bonds for the Anchorage School District. A homeowner with a $300,000 valuation would pay an additional $40 a year in property tax.

Proposition 2: $5,936,000 for public safety bonds for the infrastructure of the Anchorage Area-Wide Radio Network, acquiring new ambulances and replacement cardiac monitors, upgrading transit facilities, acquiring and replacing transit vehicles, upgrading infrastructure and undertaking bus stop improvements and school safety zone improvements and related capital improvements. Approval will automatically increase the municipal tax cap to pay for annual operation and maintenance costs related to the proposed capital improvements. For a homeowner with a $300,000 home would pay an additional $4.02 in annual property taxes, plus another 6 cents a year to pay for annual operation and maintenance that would be related.

Proposition 3: $5,513,000 in capital improvements on municipal buildings, including roof replacements, HVAC, safety improvements, bathroom renovations. A homeowner with a $300,000 home would pay another $3.75 a year in property taxes to retire the bonds.

Proposition 4: $33,240,000 in general obligation bonds for roads and drainage.  A homeowner with a $300,000 home would pay another $20 a year in property taxes and another $2.31 per year for annual operations and maintenance related to the improvements. This bond language increases the municipal tax cap going forward to include operation and maintenance. Chugiak, Eagle River, and Girdwood are excepted.

Proposition 5: $3,400,000 in bonds for parks, playgrounds, recreation facility improvements. This will cost a homeowner of a $300,000 property valuation an additional $3.90 per year in property taxes, and an additional $1.86 per year for the annual operation and maintenance costs. This bond language automatically increases the tax cap. Properties in Chugiak, Eagle River, Girdwood, and other areas outside the Service Area are excepted.

Proposition 6: $2,400,000 in bonds for fire service for replacing vehicles and equipment. A homeowner with a $300,000 valuation would pay an additional $2.46 per year in property tax, with Chugiak, Girdwood, and other areas excepted.

Proposition 7: $3,500,000  in bonds for the Anchorage Police Department’s Elmore Facility to expand the crime lab, and other police department improvements. For a homeowner with a $300,000 valuation, this bond would cost $2.43 a year in property tax, with Girdwood, Bird, Indian, Rainbow, Portage and other areas excepted.

[A complete list of already existing bond indebtedness for the Municipality can be seen here.]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Nice breakout Suzanne. Realizing I am forever the heretic, it is concerning when you read the full bond propositions on the muni site. Many are quite nebulous, with “may” do this, rather than “shall”, among other distractions of the mind. Each time bond props are on the ballot, we go through the iterations of listening to the Mayor justify them on the radio, and the local TV stations do their part to push them. I just heard the Mayor turning garbage into treasures with his smooth talk on the radio (Begich-Speak 101 crash course) and Ms. Burke the homeless coordinator doing the same on Ms. McBride’s segment on TV.
    .
    With my limited channels, I saw a library representative demonstrating how “slow” the elevators were there and how they needed upgrading. Slow? I didn’t know speed was necessary at the library. Is it safety? Then call the local Otis guys. PROP. 3: …..elevator modernization and bathroom renovations. Bathroom renovations? Does this entail creating additional bathrooms for “unisex” or some other need for those that can’t figure out where to do their business? (insert myriad reasons here). Or, is it to make bathroom ADA compliant? We really don’t know, do we…….
    .
    Prop. 5:……For the purpose of renovating and rehabilitating trails and parks, making playground, parking, safety, ADA and park improvements at various parks and recreational facilities, and making related capital improvements in the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Service Area…..
    I have an idea: renovate and rehabilitate trails and parks by getting the garbage and the homeless camps out of them. Perhaps allow the police to enforce illegal camping, illegal public drunkenness, illegal corner solicitation, and begging. But at least we have outlawed plastic bags!!
    .
    Oh, but wait! Prop. 9 will take care of that, right? Tax us for that! (b) The net receipts from the retail sales tax on alcoholic beverages, AFTER (emphasis added) payment of the costs of administration, collection and audit to the municipality, are dedicated to alcohol and substance misuse prevention and treatment, community behavioral health programs, public safety, and homelessness prevention and response, including abatement of prohibited campsites. AND THE SUBSET (c) SECTION: (c) The assembly MAY (emphasis added) direct the use of net receipts from the tax to support securing or repaying obligations by or on behalf of the municipality in order to finance projects for purposes described in subsection (b). THIS ENTIRE PROP IS NEBULOUS.
    .
    “It’s only $2.00 on your taxes…it’s only (insert tiny amount here)”. Year after year, they add up! No one even knows what the heck they are paying for anymore, and I think that is exactly the way they like it. Heretic Hal here can pick these props apart forever so I better stop. I hope that people read these thoroughly before sending in their super secure, multiple ballots they received in the mail. I can hardly wait for the Berkowitz administration’s hailing to the mega turnout and how awesome mail-in ballots are for all of those “disenfranchised” voters!

  • Does anyone think these bonds will fail? IMHO it’s a horrible and mean spirited way to pay for A) what should be ongoing maintenance, B) items that will have lived their expected useful life before the bond is retired and C) raises the tax cap WITHOUT a vote of the electorate to specifically raise the tax cap. In essence, this enormous bond package is the result of inept executive management, union directed spending, top heavy bureaucracies in MOA & ASD, and following of a set of priorities that only reflects the ultra left in our community.

    Remember, even if the Governor only gets half of the cuts in his budget, we will be expected to make up the shortfall later, resulting in even higher property taxes.

    • The Mayor, on the radio, indicated a number of times that they have to strike while the iron is hot to generate the money needed for survival, as “the State of Alaska is no longer a partner” with the municipality. Those were his words, furthered by “the State cannot earmark funds, but we can”. These bond proposals are hardly earmarked. Cloaked in secrecy is what I see. By attempting to implement responsible budgeting at the State level, the Mayor has morphed that into the verbiage “The State is no longer a partner”. How about this one Mayor: “The State no longer will allow municipalities to suck the teet for rediculous spending”. The muni needs to look at its own rediculous spending and start slicing, not taxing.

  • No municipality should take on additional general obligation debt- especially general obligation debt – until or unless the state adopts and successfully works through at least 3 years of a balanced budget. New debt now, when so much state spending has consistently relied upon one-time revenues, not to mention costs not being met such as the increasing unfunded state pension liabilities (of which the Muni of Anchorage shares a material component), is crazy. Yes, public finance executives are major contributors to municipal election campaigns but that is no reason to sell more debt, and in fact is a good reason to vote down these debt propositions. Right now it’s unclear if state government will adopt a balanced budget without using Permanent Fund reserves, and if the state does that then fiscal uncertainty will continue for perhaps another four years or longer. Explain this to your neighbors, School Board members, and candidates for local office.

  • Also, what is hidden in Prop. 8 and Easements?? A little nagging earbug keeps buzzing the words “Chris Constant and bike trails” in my ear….. This includes the same corridor he wants to add fat tire bike trails. Per the ADN: “The proposed trail would parallel the paved trail in segments totaling about a mile in the 3-mile stretch between Valley of the Moon Park at Arctic Boulevard and GOOSE LAKE near the University of Alaska Anchorage, officials said. Voters approved a park bond in April 2018 that included $150,000 to design and build the trail. Construction could start as soon as this summer.”
    .
    I’m sure votors didn’t know they approved this last year. So, back to my question: What is hidden in Prop. 8? Or any of them for that matter….

  • Keep digging and shining the light Garnet! Thank you!

  • Appreciate your information! It seems like previously approved propositions should come to an end and taxes should go back down….but it appears they either keep collecting $ after the ‘5 years’ or whatever it says or something is fishy!! Maybe I don’t understand how it all works but we just keep paying more and more…… ;/

  • Make the message clear, voters, no new taxes until they get their crap together. Don’t cave to the fallacious arguments and emotional manipulations. Not a dime more until we see proper governance.

    • Amen. Rebecca Logan was a missed opportunity that is for sure. I hope she runs again, or another legit conservative that can start turning this mess around before we look like Seattle.

  • Wasn’t mail-in voting forced on voters to make sure a majority vote correctly?
    .
    Now, ballot harvesting and simple line-through ballot corrections, which anyone can do anytime, which nobody could do at traditional polling places, makes it much more possible for no bond or tax to be left behind, which is the whole reason for forcing mail-in voting on voters, no?
    .
    Add the really cool concept that nobody in his right mind puts his telephone number or e-mail address on a mail-in ballot which means The Machine or the city’s amateur handwriting experts can reject your ballot if, for any reason, they don’t like your signature and can’t call you.
    .
    Care to imagine how that conversation would go?
    .
    Not to worry, Gentle Readers, nothing’ll stop this monster from getting fat enough to collapse under its own weight.
    .
    Or some Jack’ll decide this Beanstalk’s comin’ down.
    .
    Either way, should be fun to watch…

  • The State spent $87,000,000 to replace its Crime Lab. In the pitch to receive the funding, the promise made to the State Legislature by the Chief, Orin Dym, was that all would be copacetic if ONLY he got his new lab.

    Now, the city is so fed up with the lousy service from that State Lab that they want to expand their own lab and not have to deal with Dym.

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