Drugs and money on fill up Assembly agenda in Anchorage

The Anchorage Assembly meets Tuesday evening to weigh in on a wide range of issues, tentatively casting votes on everything from speeding tickets to Spice.

There’s public testimony on an ordinance from the Mayor’s Administration that would treat Spice more like a Schedule One drug–similar cocaine or heroin. The intent of the measure is to give law enforcement more tools to build larger cases that can target manufacturers and suppliers, not just street-level users.

Testimony and discussion on the budget will likely be less straightforward.

Though the Administration’s overall operating budget is somewhat smaller than last year’s, several ordinances show how those aren’t due to cost reductions so much as shifting funds around. One measure extends the pre-funding period on a Medical Trust for retirees, putting less in the account over the next 13 years in order to pay for pertinent budget items today, like police academies.

There’s also an ordinance updating the city’s fine schedule for traffic infractions, which is projected to bring in $1,260,012. But Assembly Member Bill Evans has a counter-proposal that throws out those updates, because he believes things like speeding tickets should be completely separate from the budget.

“My main concern is that we’re basically using law enforcement as a revenue generator,” Evans said by phone, “and I think it’s a bad practice.”

Evans’s version of the ordinance leaves most existing fines in place, and means the Administration would have to figure out how to re-coop $722,000.

The Assembly is hearing its second round of public testimony on the proposed budget.

There’s also a measures that would make driving without insurance, and driving while using a a screen-device (like a smartphone) offenses punishable by a simple, costly $500 fine, rather than misdemeanors that need to be handled in court.

The meeting begins at 5pm in the Loussac Library, public testimony starts after 6pm.