The Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed the 2013 budget Tuesday night with a few amendments.
One of the budget items which received lots of attention over the past few weeks was proposed cuts to the fire department, including the elimination of a truck in Eagle River and a water tender near the Hillside. Assembly member Bill Starr submitted an amendment on behalf of Mayor Dan Sullivan giving an additional $400,000 to the fire department.
“Tender 9 will be a function of management within the department. This amendment provides surety for truck 11. We’re gonna manage the department so that we can keep Tender 9 operational whenever possible. But it is possible that there will be times when it’s not operational,” Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said.
The Assembly and the Mayor’s Office have been working to shave the budget down for weeks. The amendment was a relief to Rod Harris with the Anchorage Fire Fighters Union. But he says he’s still unsatisfied because partially funding the water truck could cause problems fighting fires in a neighborhood with few hydrants.
“The need has not gone away or the justification has not gone away for that rig,” Harris said. “I believe it is largely a political statement.”
Harris says the firefighters union offered to forego part of their cost of living increase, if the Mayor would fully fund the tender but they got no response. Also restored to the final budget, is funding for another year of youth court, which was originally eliminated. Other amendments include an additional $100,0000 for the library for materials acquisition, $124,000 for a wetlands coordinator position that was set to be cut, and $300,000 to buy more Tasers for police officers.
Rejected amendments include maintaining a reduced bus fare for senior and disabled riders and reinstating funding for the homeless coordinator, among others. The budget also eliminates nearly a nearly a dozen filled positions and dozens of unfilled ones across departments. The total 2013 budget is more than $475 million.