By BOB MAIER
Standing true to their mantra of “housing first” for the homeless, Anchorage municipal government is also providing permanent housing for Anchorage Assembly Members.
Construction has begun on a remodel of City Hall downtown, located at 6th and G. The purpose is to provide Anchorage Assembly members individual offices.
The original $350,000 price tag for the project was first approved February 11, 2020 by the Assembly via Assembly Resolution 2020-10 and Assembly Memorandum 24-2020.
At their January 12, 2021 meeting the Assembly increased the original $350,000 price tag by $122,500 for a new total of $472,500, via Assembly Resolution 2021-12 and Assembly Memorandum 32-2021.
Read the resolution from Jan. 12 increasing the price tag for City Hall office remodels:
When he was questioned during debate about the increase in funding for the project at the Jan. 12, 2021 meeting, Assembly Chairman Felix Rivera stated that the purpose was for “furnishings.”
So where is all of this money coming from? Is it ‘Covid-19 Cares Act’ money? Will the remodel be paid for with the 5% alcohol tax from the restaurant / hospitality industry which began the first day of February? Will the source be proceeds from the sale of Municipal Light and Power to Chugach Electric?
Perhaps it is just coming from good old Anchorage property taxpayer dollars.
Does it really matter anymore? It will certainly take beyond a “forensic audit” to determine the source. But ultimately, the true victim in all of this is the Anchorage tax cap and what it has historically stood for.
Rest in peace, dear Anchorage tax cap.
With the construction project at City Hall proceeding, perhaps even a closer look is necessary at the business being conducted by Anchorage municipal government.
The Anchorage Salaries and Emoluments Commission, over a series of meetings, have voted the Anchorage Mayor, Assembly members and School Board members pay raises.
These raises are scheduled to be phased in as members are newly elected or re-elected. The question we should ask of all those running for elected office on this April’s Municipal Election Ballot, along with those already seated is … with the economy suffering will you or have you accepted the increase in salary?
Read the resolution increasing the salaries for elected officials:
Anchorage Assembly members will receive a base salary increase between April 2019 and April 2021 from $31,096 to $60,008, a pay raise of $28,912 or 93% over a two period, excluding medical allowances.
Financially, it has been a very good year for Anchorage municipal government as a whole. I just wish that I could make that same claim for the rest of us in private industry.
Bob Maier is a Resident of Anchorage who has been paying property taxes to the Municipality every year since 1978.