Berkowitz introduces 2019 operating budget
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz unveiled his proposed 2019 operating budget for the municipality Tuesday night.
The proposal is more than $6 million higher than the 2018 budget, but it could also increase public safety while saving property owners money.
Last year's budget was $515.7 million. This year's proposal comes in at $522 million.
Even though the budget is rising, Berkowitz said property taxes should remain at current rates or possibly see small reductions. The muni is expecting increased revenue, close to $6.6 million, from Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance services as well as motor fuel and marijuana taxes.
In a move to bolster public safety, the mayor's budget also shifts investment to medics and police.
As part of the plan, APD plans to lease the former Legislative Information Office building on 4th Avenue, putting some of its headquarters officers downtown. The proposed budget will also fund three non-sworn officers, who will likely join APD's stressed dispatch center.
Berkowitz says the higher 2019 funding is needed as Anchorage continues to expand.
"The city has grown a little bit, there's been inflation and we have to have a budget that matches that," Berkowitz said. "Also, we're having increasing responsibilities because the state has pushed a lot of responsibilities onto us that we have had to assume, but we are in great shape."
Some of the other public priorities that are addressed in the 2019 budget include economic development, housing and homelessness, and fund balance.
There will be two public hearings on the proposed budget, including one on Oct. 23 and a second on Nov. 7. The mayor's proposal is slated to go before the Anchorage Assembly on Nov. 20.
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