Anchorage could be looking at a budget deficit as high as $20 million next year, according to Municipal Management and Budget Director Lance Wilber.

He said the number is still a guess, but city departments are being told to prepare for cuts.

Wilber said he’s asked each department, with the exception of “first responders” (police and fire), to come up with 10% budget cuts and submit what those might look like to the Mayor’s Office.

“I’m asking all departments to look at their existing budgets and propose solutions,” said Wilber. He said he expected to receive the lists sometime towards the end of July. Wilber said the police and fire departments are being asked to propose 5% cuts. A figure, he said, which would run about $5 million.

Wilber said the deficit is the result of several things, including increasing labor costs and paying for the city’s expensive new software system known as S.A.P.

That, combined with, what is expected to be little or no revenue sharing from the state, has produced a big budget hole, said Wilber.

He added that it’s still very early to be talking about what next year’s budget will look like and the lists produced by each department will be considered carefully, in light of some of Mayor Berkowitz’s top priorities, including economic development, public safety and housing the homeless.

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