Emotional public testimony for proposed 2019 budget
It was an emotional night at the Anchorage Assembly as the second public hearing was held Wednesday night for the proposed 2019 operating budget.
The proposal is more than $6 million higher than last year's budget. At Wednesday's meeting, it wasn't the higher price tag that had people upset, it's where the money could be going and what could be taken away.
"I have lost confidence in Mayor Berkowitz and his administration," said Anchorage resident Linda Chase.
Last year's budget was $515.7 million and this year's proposal comes in at $522 million.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the higher 2019 funding is needed as Anchorage continues to expand. Part of the plan is to move the Anchorage Police Department headquarters to downtown Anchorage, focus on economic development and housing and homelessness.
Below is the full 2019 budget proposal:
Many people at the assembly say they think homeless camp abatement should be apart of the budget as well.
"We have fires every morning in my subdivision; it's plastic and garbage, the fires are burning and it's hanging over our subdivision every morning," said Barbara, a concerned neighbor. "There's out of control propane fires in the ceremony's that threaten our home."
"If you notice there's a number of us wearing these green signs that say budget for abatement," said Chase. "It is a major crisis in our community and we ask that you consider we ask you to budget for abatement."
One Anchorage teacher said, "It's disgusting I can no longer as a teacher at Central Middle School of Science I can no longer walk down to the family of the moon because it's too dangerous."
Others were there to address their concerns over proposed cuts to the Anchorage Fire Department. If next's years budget passes, AFD would be out nearly $2.5 million. The department's plan comes with two proposals.
First, the department would stop manning a water tender from Station 14 on Campbell Airstrip Road. The tender provides water in case of a fire to Stuckagain Heights and the Anchorage Hillside.
Second, is to stop manning a fire truck from Station 12 in South Anchorage. This has those living in these neighborhoods worried.
"There is no fire hydrants or any accessible water in our neighborhood," said Wendy Moe, Anchorage resident. "The tinder hauls 2,500 gallons and the fire truck has 750 gallons of water."
"In my experience, in over 21 years of being a vocal servant in public safety, these cuts can prove to be very dangerous to the community," said Mike Stumbaugh of Anchorage Firefighter Union. "Closing a water trick and a tinder will increase response trucks dramatically potential ally be the different between living and dying."
The budget will be voted on November 20 at the next assembly meeting.
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