Bond measures and ballot propositions approved by Assembly for April election

Bond measures and ballot propositions approved by Assembly for April election
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 9:11 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In a special meeting held Monday evening, the Anchorage Assembly unanimously approved nearly a dozen bonds and ballot propositions that voters will consider as part of the April 4 election.

Eight of the bonds and ballot measures passed unanimously and with little to no comment from the public, who will have ample time to review the measures and bonds ahead of the April 4 municipal elections.

The items that voters will see on their ballots in April include bonds to help secure funding for improvements at Mulcahy Stadium, storm drainage upgrades, projects for the Anchorage Fire Department, and various Parks and Recreations improvements.

Also on the ballot will be a proposition to increase the “existing powers to provide services in support of policies that promote local housing and economic stability” in Girdwood — effectively granting residents the authority to develop a body of their own to address the unique housing challenges of the municipality’s resort town.

“Power is best in the hands of people who know,” said Assembly Vice-Chair Chris Constant.

Land Use Supervisor and Girdwood Board of Supervisors Co-Chair Mike Edgington says the move will help residents of Girdwood help themselves.

“We have plenty of ideas about how we can make improvements,” Edgington said. “But they’re like napkin drawings. We need engineering drawings.”

Another decision voters will make soon could be to amend the Municipal Charter to alter who manages the city’s money. Approval of this proposition would change management of the municipality’s trust fund from the municipal treasurer to a separate board created solely for the supervision of the fund. The move would help to protect the individuals overseeing the financial interests of Anchorage, as well as the municipality itself.

“We’ve grown up, and there’s too much risk for one individual,” Constant said.

While proposals to fund new emergency vehicles for both Eagle River and Girdwood were both reviewed at the meeting, voters will only see the opportunity to vote on funding for Eagle River’s new vehicle.

Confusion abounded as the Girdwood Board of Supervisors co-chair informed the assembly that their body had not been included in the discussions leading up to the proposal, and was not actually in need of assistance to acquire the new equipment.

“The issue isn’t the payment or the requirement, it’s whether it deserves a bond,” Edgington said. “We never requested a bond and we don’t want one.”

Edgington advised that the group has been saving money in anticipation of replacing another fire engine in 2025, and can use the money on hand now to facilitate the purchase of new equipment. According to Girdwood Fire Department’s Chief Doug Schrage, the vehicle to be acquired will be used in the assistance of emergency services along the Seward Highway corridor.

Further confusion surrounded the amount of money to be used for projects to be completed by the Parks and Recreation department. According to several members of the assembly, the process for approving the ballot measure for additional parks and rec projects is different than in years past. Further deliberation of that item has been moved to the next upcoming regular assembly meeting scheduled for Jan. 24.

The meeting concluded with a matter of business related to the investigation of former Anchorage Public Health Director Joe Gerace’s tenure, including the assembly’s right to use subpoenas to review when privileged information was accessed by Gerace and others under his purview.

The April 4 election is also when voters will decide who will permanently fill seats for East Anchorage and Chugiak/Eagle River that are are currently held by interim members Joey Sweet and Robin Dern.

The Anchorage Assembly’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24.