Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson proposed a budget for next year that cuts city spending by 1.3%, consolidates several departments and eliminates 53 jobs.
Bronson unveiled his proposal at a news conference on Friday. He said the budget is designed to streamline the city’s government. In all, it chops $7.5 million in spending, resulting in a roughly $550 million budget.
“We’re real happy with that,” Bronson said. “And that’s how we have to move forward, we have to be quite responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Under the proposal, property owners would pay about $4 less per $100,000 of property they own, according to city budget documents.
Bronson had campaigned on cutting city spending. And, soon after taking office this summer, he directed all department heads to evaluate a 5% reduction in their budgets.
Under his proposed budget, several city departments would become divisions. For example, the city’s library system, which was previously its own department, would become a division of the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department.
As a division, the library director would be appointed by the parks director and wouldn’t require Assembly approval. Bronson’s previous nominee to be library director was voted down by the Assembly.
The mayor’s office would get the biggest cuts by percentage under the proposal, though no jobs would be eliminated. Instead, money would be cut from the mayor’s community grant program. Those grants are awarded at the mayor’s discretion to things like public festivals or youth programs.
Also under Bronson’s proposal, the city’s health department would lose two public health nurses and the library would lose four staff.
And the budget proposal would change who pays for school resource officers in the Anchorage School District.
Bronson’s proposal transfers most of the costs for the program back to the district. City Manager Amy Demboski said when the school resource officer program was established, the city paid half of the cost, but in recent years, it’s paid for 100% of the program. She said it makes more sense to have the school district bear the cost.
“We think it’s appropriate to … allocate costs based on usage. And that’s what we’re attempting to do,” she said.
In a statement, Anchorage Schools Superintendent Deena Bishop said that the district is committed to keeping officers in schools.
Bronson’s proposal now goes to the Anchorage Assembly, which must approve a 2022 budget by Dec. 10.