Anchorage Police Department to Get $3.1M to Fill Budget Gap

The city of Anchorage voted last night to spend $3.1 million to fill a budget short fall for the Anchorage Police Department.

Assembly member Paul Honeman asked how the department had wracked up millions of dollars in overages so unexpectedly late in the budget year. Police Chief Mark Mew’s gave a straight-forward answer: “This year things did not go our way, we had a great deal of overtime.”

With staffing levels lean, paying officers for overtime work was one of the few options available for sufficiently covering shifts. And those payments came to about $2.9 million more than was planned for the year. Mew says that is mostly due to staffing anomalies connected with a wave of retirements, back-to-back training academies, and a misunderstanding with the Office of Management and Budget. None of which threaten the year ahead.

“I don’t believe those things are gonna happen in 2015,” Mew told the Assembly. “The budget for 2015 is not as tight as 2014 was.”

The lone vote against the $3.1 million transfer was Assembly member Patrick Flynn.

Earlier in the night there was a shake-up, with a vote for re-organization leading Dick Traini to replace Flynn as chair of the Assembly, a position Traini has held three times already. Immediately afterwards the body elected Elvi Gray-Jackson to take over the position of vice chair.

It was the Assembly’s last regularly scheduled meeting of the year. They will pick up in 2015.