Bronson administration aims to cut Anchorage city budget by 5%

An older white man in a tan suit, a woman in a black blouse and a white man in a grey suit and red tie speak at a table in front of microphones
Health Director David Morgan, City Manager Amy Demboski and Mayor Dave Bronson at a July 29, 2021 news conference. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Bronson administration says it’s asking each city department to assess how a 5% cut would affect services as it prepares its budget proposal for the Anchorage Assembly, due this fall. 

Mayor Dave Bronson’s pick for city manager, Amy Demboski said at a Thursday news conference the administration is aiming to cut the city’s overall budget by 5%. She expects department heads will present details on how they’ll make the cuts over the next month. 

“Departments are now going through that exercise of saying ‘What would the impact be to services? What would the impact be to our operations? And what is mission critical that we certainly cannot cut?” she said.

On the campaign trail, Bronson said he would look to cut the budgets of all city departments except for police as part of an effort to lower property taxes. The police and fire departments together account for about 40% of the city’s total budget. At Thursday’s meeting, Demboski backtracked slightly, and said the city didn’t expect to cut any firefighter or police officer positions.

“That’s not our expectation. However, every single department has been asked to go through this exercise. And that’s what it is. It’s an evaluation process,” she said.

A Bronson spokesperson said in a written statement that the departments were asked to find savings with an “emphasis on efficiencies, streamlining services and effectiveness of government operations.”

Bill Falsey, a progressive who worked as city manager under the previous administration and ran for mayor against Bronson, said the cuts will likely result in a reduction of services and employees. 

“If you say police and fire are safe, then everybody else is taking like 10% budget cuts,” he said. “And I cannot foresee a path that allows you to do that without significantly impacting services and employment, because there just aren’t 10% budget cuts to be made in anything other than labor and services.”

He said that asking departments to assess the effects of budget cuts is fairly routine when the city faces a budget shortfall. But he thought it was unlikely the city’s revenues would drop this year with the influx of federal coronavirus relief money and cash coming in from a power utility deal.

A budget proposal is due by October, according to the city charter.

This story has been updated.  

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