The Anchorage Assembly is moving to restore money for Mayor-elect Dave Bronson’s transition team, which has been depending on volunteer labor and donated supplies after an apparent budget oversight.
Past city budgets have contained money to pay for transition expenses like staff and office space.
But none was included this year, said Chris Constant, the Assembly’s vice chair. The last elected mayoral transition was in 2015: Ethan Berkowitz took over from Dan Sullivan, and was re-elected in 2018.
“We do a budget every year based on the year prior, and there hasn’t been a transition for five budget cycles,” Constant said. “It was just an oversight because it’s not a regular process.”
Constant plans to propose a $60,000 transition fund at the Assembly’s next meeting, on Tuesday, he said. That’s the same amount the Assembly budgeted for the transition in 2009.
While it’s been a month since his opponent conceded, Bronson’s transition team never asked about the missing money because they wanted to avoid conflict with the Assembly, Constant said.
Bronson is coming into office after openly and aggressively criticizing Assembly members on the campaign trail — and instead learning of the budget problem through a direct request, Assembly members only discovered it through reporting by a politics website, the Alaska Landmine, Constant said.
The result — a relatively quick fix — could be a helpful lesson for the incoming mayor’s team, Constant said.
“My point to them back was, don’t assume there’s going to be a fight,” Constant said. “These are the things you learn by having a relationship with people.”
Up to now, Bronson’s transition team was relying on volunteer labor and donated supplies, said spokesman Matt Shuckerow. Members even brought in printers from home, and the mayor-elect and transition co-chairs Larry Baker and Craig Campbell have been paying office expenses out of pocket, Shuckerow added.
The money from the city will allow Bronson’s team to pay rent on its transition offices when it comes due, he said.
“We’re glad that we’re seeing the issue resolved,” Shuckerow said.
Separately, Bronson’s inaugural committee is using a nonprofit to raise money for celebrations that will take place July 1, the day the new mayor is sworn in. Those will include a barbecue on the Delaney Park Strip, Shuckerow said.
Sponsors of the events could include private businesses, or individuals that have a vested interest in city government affairs.
But Shuckerow would not directly say whether the inaugural committee plans to disclose its donors’ identities.
“They will follow all reporting requirements,” he said, though nonprofit organizations are not required to disclose the identity of their donors.
Berkowitz held a small inaugural celebration in downtown Anchorage’s Town Square Park, and he also raised money from private donors, according to a former campaign official.
Constant said he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable for the committee to use the nonprofit to raise money from supporters — but he added that it’s not unreasonable for information about those supporters to be shared, even if it’s not required.
“I think there’s a wise case to be made for why they ought to share it, and ultimately it’s up to them,” he said.