Berkowitz says state cutbacks are costing Anchorage millions
Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz says spending cuts at the state level are getting very expensive for people within the municipality.
During a meeting with assembly members on Friday he announced a $24 million budget hole that elected officials must now figure out how to fill.
“The people of Anchorage are fair and they understand that these are difficult choices and that we’ve got to make them,” Berkowitz said. “Ignoring them doesn’t make the choices easier. The longer we ignore them the more difficult and problematic the solutions become.”
The mayor says most of the added expenses have to do with reduction in the state revenue sharing program, the lower Permanent Fund Dividend payout and restrictions to Municipal Light and Power operations.
The more the state cuts, the more financial responsibility is placed on the city, according to the mayor.
“We can accommodate some of these costs but it represents a structural change in the relationship between the state and the municipality,” said Berkowitz.
Gov. Walker said the struggles are not unique to Anchorage.
“The state cannot spend money that it doesn’t have. This is just further evidence of why legislators must pass a balanced fiscal plan this next legislative session that includes new sources of revenue,” the governor wrote in response to the claim made by Berkowitz.
The mayor says the $24 million budget hole represents about 5 percent of the muni’s annual budget.
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