Anchorage sees property tax hike as 2016 budget sails through

During its Tuesday night meeting, the Anchorage Assembly approved the city’s 2016 budget, which totals just under $481 million dollars.

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As far as budgets go, this one’s route to passage the last few weeks has been relatively uneventful.

The overall number is down $2,699,103 from what was finalized last year.

Beneath the decrease, though, is a dispute over whether money has actually been saved. With less revenues coming in, the city is maintaining services and even boosting the budget for public safety in part through collecting more taxes — a difference that will mean about a $50 increase for the owner of a home valued at $300,000, according to Office of Management and Budget Directer Lance Wilber.

The administration also reduced the size of the operating budget through measures like shifting expenses to the capital budget, or restructuring long-term financial obligations.

Ultimately the four conservative Assembly Members representing communities in Chugiak-Eagle River and South Anchorage voted against the budget. Assembly member Amy Demboski proposed 40 amendments–some that would result in savings as low as $285–which were part of a larger effort to delete unnecessary government expenses.

“Through the process–just in scrubbing the budget–I think I found about $850,000 worth of savings we could have just achieved tonight,” Demboski said after the meeting.

All those amendments were voted down by the body.

During comments, most Assembly members expressed that in worsening fiscal times it was a decent enough first budget from the Berkowitz Administration, and one they could live with.

The operating budget comes back up for review in April.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

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