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Anchorage residents speak up about spending priorities

By Kirsten Swann 8:29 PM October 9, 2013

Budget talks set to kick off Oct. 11

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ANCHORAGE – The Municipality of Anchorage’s proposed 2014 operating budget counters a projected $3.1 million shortfall with roughly $4.5 million in spending cuts.

Mayor Dan Sullivan’s goal “is to continue to manage spending in a manner that is sustainable and affordable to taxpayers both today and in the future,” stated a budget overview document released by Sullivan’s office.

Under the proposed budget, Anchorage residents would see a slight decrease in property taxes – $3 per $100,000 in assessed home value. But some public services would see cuts, too. The Anchorage Police Department’s spending plan proposes cutting more than $100,000 from last year’s budget, and nearly $2 million from the amount it would cost to maintain the same level of policing as last year.

The budget also proposes increases to ambulance fees and bus fares, and cited increasing labor and debt service costs. The Anchorage Assembly has yet to begin a series of public work sessions regarding Sullivan’s budget proposal, but today patrons of Loussac Public Library spoke up about their own budget priorities.

“I’d like to see more cops,” said Becky Stewart. “We’ve had our car broken into several times, and where we used to live you couldn’t get any police officers there quick enough to catch what was going on. They’ve always been very helpful, but it’s like they just don’t have enough help.”

Bernice Nisbett said she’d like to see the municipality fund public learning spaces.

“I think one of the things our city should spend more money on – or at least focus on – is education,” she said. “Places like the library, places where people can go and read and use the Internet and focus on learning something important.”

Assembly members are scheduled to meet regarding the budget proposal October 11.

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