Mayor Bronson vetoes Assembly big spending

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Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson announced his vetoes of AR 2022-98 (S), the Anchorage Assembly resolution adding more spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget.

The vetoes reflect the mayor’s priorities, he said in a statement: Protecting the public’s safety; creating a prosperous and business-friendly community; compassionately addressing our homelessness crisis; re-organizing for a more efficient and effective government; and aligning costs to better reflect cost causer/cost payer.

The mayor’s vetoes save taxpayers $3.4 million and delivers a budget for 2022 that is $4.7 million below the tax cap.

The veto items include:

$2,308,894 –  Police, Fully fund School Resource Office (SRO) program (additional 9 months) remove revenue receipt from Anchorage School District (ASD).

The reason for the veto:  The ASD approved budget includes Anchorage property taxes to pay for the SRO program during the 2022-2023 school year. The Assembly’s action taxes property owners a second time to pay for the same program. At its inception in 2002, the SRO program was funded through a federal matching grant. Over time, the responsibility for funding the SRO program has shifted between general government and ASD. “My proposal would allow for the program to be funded by a cost-causer/cost-payer model, accurately representing ASD’s utilization of the services. While I continue to support the work of the SROs, I believe it is appropriate that ASD pay for the program during the school year and general government pay for it in the summer months. For these reasons, I have vetoed funding from general government for school year operations and continue to support a shared arrangement,” he said.

$314,636 – Development Services, Starting July 1, fund 1 Electrical Inspector, 2 Mechanical/Plumbing Inspectors, and 1 Structural Inspector.

The reason for the veto:  The reduction of these positions is part of an effort to right-size the inspector staff with the anticipated workload. “This will not impact service and is part of my strategy to bring the Building Safety Service Area Fund (163000) to be self-sustaining and reduce its current negative fund balance,” Bronson said.

$1,061,897 – Health, Maintain funding 8 Anchorage Health Department (AHD) positions out of AHD’s operating budget; correct any associated labor expense (Jan – April) for these positions to be paid for in AHD’s operating budget.

The reason for the veto:  These positions are critical in servicing populations experiencing homelessness, substance misuse, and mental health crises—all of which were expressed priorities in establishing the alcohol tax. “The Assembly amendment switched funding to property taxes; my veto continues funding these positions using alcohol taxes,” Bronson said.

$657,176 – Fire, Maintain funding for MCT for a total recurring amount of $1,575,180.

The reason for the veto:  Current collective bargaining agreements do not allow for the Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) program to be fully implemented at the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) ($918,004 is currently in the department’s budget for this program). Because of this limitation, additional funds will not achieve the amendment’s desired outcome. In addition, AFD’s program is intended to be an interim solution while community partners stand-up the 988 Crisis Now model (see December 1, 2021 Assembly Health Policy Committee Presentation by the Alaska Mental Health Trust). It would not be prudent to build out this program now, only to lay off trained personnel when the Crisis Now program is deployed, he said.

$872,000 – Fire, Increase MCT to be 24-7 starting July 1 (Total program needs to be $2,447,358).

The reason for the veto: Current collective bargaining agreements do not allow for the MCT program to be fully implemented at the AFD ($918,004 is currently in the department’s budget for this program). Because of this limitation, additional funds will not achieve the amendment’s desired outcome. In addition, AFD’s program is intended to be an interim solution while community partners stand-up the 988 Crisis Now model (see December 1, 2021 Assembly Health Policy Committee Presentation by the Alaska Mental Health Trust). It would not be prudent to build out this program now, only to lay off trained personnel when the Crisis Now program is deployed. 

$122,000 – Fire, 1FTE for new, permanent position in MCT – Logistics Coordinator.

The reason for the veto: Current collective bargaining agreements do not allow for the MCT program to be fully implemented at the AFD ($918,004 is currently in the department’s budget for this program). Because of this limitation, additional funds will not achieve the amendment’s desired outcome. In addition, AFD’s program is intended to be an interim solution while community partners stand-up the 988 Crisis Now model (see December 1, 2021 Assembly Health Policy Committee Presentation by the Alaska Mental Health Trust). It would not be prudent to build out this program now, only to lay off trained personnel when the Crisis Now program is deployed.

$1,061,897 – Health, Maintain funding 8 AHD positions out of AHD’s operating budget; correct any associated labor expense (Jan – April) for these positions to be paid for in AHD’s operating budget.

The reason for the veto:  The effect of this veto is that it reinstates funding for these positions from alcohol tax revenue instead of property taxes. These positions are critical in serving populations experiencing homelessness, substance misuse, and mental health crises, all of which were expressed priorities in establishing the alcohol tax.

$788,379 – Health, Operational costs for shelter to balance increase to MCT program.

The reason for the veto:  Shelter operational costs are a high priority to the mass care exit strategy from the Sullivan Arena. As explained in other sections, the MCT program has sufficient funding for its current operation and, accordingly, this funding is better used for the more critical need of shelter operations.

$500,000 – Alcohol Tax Program – Police, specifically to fund trainings that will focus on the roll-out of new equipment, case law updates, de-escalation, cultural awareness, wellness, and significant policy changes.  This would allow up to 20 hrs of in-service training per officer in 2022.  APD will provide a report to the Assembly on these efforts no later than October 2022.

The reason for the veto: Anchorage Municipal Charter (Charter), Article XIV, Section 14.07 provides that net receipts from the alcoholic beverages retail sales tax (Alcohol Tax) are dedicated and to be available only for:

  1. funding for police, related criminal justice personnel, and first responders;
  1. Funding to combat and address child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence; and
  1. Funding for substance misuse treatment, prevention programs, detoxification or long-term addiction recovery facilities, mental and behavioral health programs, and resources to prevent and address Anchorage’s homelessness crisis.

Further, the net receipts of the Alcohol Tax cannot be used to supplant funding for existing service levels as contained in the Municipality’s actual operating budget for fiscal year 2020. Charter, art. XIV, § 14.07.(e). The net receipts of the Alcohol Tax are to be used only for additional services above the 2020 baseline.

Here, the intended use of funds in Zaletel Amendment #1 are inconsistent with the expressed limitations in Charter of Alcohol Tax net receipts. The amendment does not add police or criminal justice personnel, nor does it fund substance misuse treatment or behavioral health programs. As approved by the Assembly, the amendment also provides no analysis of how the funds will be specifically used to combat and address child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. “Because the Assembly has not shown a nexus between the proposed use of the funds and the limitations of Alcohol Tax revenues, I must veto the Amendment,” he said.

$50,000 – Alcohol Tax Program – Fire, to fund a study to review and make recommendations regarding the personnel levels, staffing structure, national standards and other contributors to overall costs related to the labor costs within the Anchorage Fire Department.

The reason for the veto: As discussed above, Charter Article XIV, Section 14.07 expressly restricts use of Alcohol Tax net receipts to very narrow purposes. Here, an appropriation to the Assembly to “fund a study to review and make recommendations regarding personnel levels, staffing structure, national standards and other contributors to overall costs related to the labor costs with the Anchorage Fire Department” is not an acceptable use of alcohol tax net receipts. The appropriation does not add personnel, it does nothing to combat domestic violence or sexual assault, and it does not provide services for mental health or substance misuse. As such, this appropriation is an improper use of the alcohol tax.  

$50,000 – Alcohol Tax Program – Police, for specific recruiting efforts to increase the number of officers with APD specifically focused on recruiting individuals that are reflective of the overall demographics of the community.  APD will provide a report to the Assembly on these efforts no later than October 2022.

The reason for the veto:  In this amendment, the Assembly is again attempting to use net receipts of the alcohol tax inconsistent with the plaint language of Charter. “While I support efforts to create a more diverse workforce within APD, the Alcohol Tax cannot be used for recruitment alone. This amendment does not show, or provide any analysis tending to show, how these funds would add services above the 2020 baseline. In other words, this amendment does not directly add personnel above the 2020 service levels. Instead, it seeks only to recruit a more diverse applicant base. Without showing how these funds will add personnel or increase services above the baseline 2020 level, the appropriation is an improper use of the Alcohol Tax net receipts.”

$50,000 – Alcohol Tax Program – Assembly, Facilitate an education effort on the Alcohol Tax Program, including an opportunity to collect feedback from the public.

The reason for the veto:  Dunbar, Quinn-Davidson, & Zaletel Amendment #2 is another improper use of Alcohol Tax funds. The expressed language in Charter provides that the net receipts of the tax must be used in very specific ways. Nothing in the plain language of Charter leads to the conclusion that an education effort on the Alcohol Tax Program is acceptable. As stated above, to spend from the Alcohol Tax fund, an appropriation must be for purposes allowed in Charter and code and also show how the appropriation will increase services above the 2020 baseline. This amendment fails to do so and, as a result, must be vetoed, Bronson said. 

THE MAYOR HAS NOT VETOED THE FOLLOWING:  

  • $360,000 – Funding 4 FTE permanent Firefighter positions  
  • $128,873 – Maintain Mayor’s Community Grants program and allocate $35K to Arts Grants
  • $530,000 –  Special election costs, security and legal contract increases, Clerk’s Office and Elections staffing and pay disparity corrections
  • $114,000 – Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC)
  • $12,000 – Short term rental study in Girdwood
  • $25,000 – Winfluence AKRR claim of use along tracks
  • $14,995 – Increase funding on Girdwood EMS contract
  • $199,100 – Evidence-based grants to providers for child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence
  • $125,000 – Grant to Standing Together Against Rape (STAR)
  • $13,293 – Whittier Police Department and Girdwood Fire & Rescue Training

13 COMMENTS

  1. If our assembly was a air freshener what would it smell like – – – – . Just imagine these clowns on there judgment day hiding away like an oath breaker would do. Busted by Bronson condemned by GOD our assembly are oath breaking cowards of the night. Vote counter GOD has special plans for that oath breaker shame shame shame on all you you you. Assembly you just don’t get it.

  2. Guarantee that the Assembly will overide most if not ALL of the Mayor’s vetoes and tax to the cap. Any bets?

    • Even if his vetos make perfect sense and are grounded in logic, and supported by a majority of voters……..he will be over-ridden. No bets. Democrats are just nasty, bitter, and deranged.

  3. The mayor and his staff attempting to stay within the guidelines of the charter and the limitations of the assigned uses of the punitive special use taxes implemented on some of the population is laudable. It is like watching real government working instead of the type of ridiculous behavior of the “assembly”.

  4. Anchorage taxpayers pay for the ASD SRO whether MOA funds it, or ASD.Playing politics with school children safety is another low point for Bronson. Providing public safety is MOA’s responsibility.

    • Come on Frank! Willfully ignoring the main point doesn’t even suit you! Why should the taxpayer be on the hook AGAIN. If the SRO program is already fully funded in the ASD $850 million budget, then ASD is not entitled to get another payday. So if anyone is playing fast and loose with our school children’s safety, look no further than the school board for holding a paid-for program hostage.

  5. Leftists never have any problem spending other people’s money.
    .
    Veto overrides in three… two….

  6. So if an item in the budget is already fully funded by a directed tax and it is funded a second time by general fund monies, doesn’t that meet the standard for a fraud waste or abuse charge?

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