Bond proposals for schools, roads, parks and more on ballot

Rosemary Shinohara
Paul Mandeville casts his ballot while voting early in the Anchorage municipal election at City Hall on Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013. The regular election will be held next Tuesday, April, 2, 2012. BILL ROTH

Anchorage voters will decide on four bond propositions in Tuesday's city election, including a $54.8 million proposition for school projects.

The school bonds, Proposition 1, would pay for renovation, rebuilding or design projects at 27 schools cross the city.

The biggest project: reconstruction of Girdwood K-8 School for $23 million, which lacks some basic facilities other schools have, such as science labs, said Mike Abbott, the district's chief operating officer.

The district ranked schools based on how well different buildings meet educational needs, and secondly what kind of shape the building is in, Abbott said.

"Girdwood is the school with facilities that do the worst job of supporting our education program," he said.

"They don't have enough teaching spaces. Many that they do have are too small. They are missing elements that would be required, like we don't have science lab space for the middle school students there," he said.

The plan is to both upgrade and expand the school, which is growing much more rapidly than other schools.

It now has 195 students, up from 145 during the 2006-2007 school year, Abbott said. Enrollment is expected to increase by 40 percent to 50 percent over the next 10 years.

The additional enrollment anticipated in Girdwood is due partly to an expected increase in housing there, Abbott said.

The rest of the district is not experiencing that kind of growth, he said.

Other school projects include addition of a gym at Aurora Elementary, renovation of the Bartlett High School cafeteria and kitchen, planning and design of projects for nine schools, and repairs and renovation to another 19.

The state reimburses 60 percent to 70 percent of the debt for Anchorage school projects. Taking that into account, the school projects would add about $4.85 in annual real and personal property taxes for each $100,000 of value, or $14.55 for the owner of a $300,000 house.

The district is paying off about $55 million in debt this year, Abbott said.

Voters have had mixed reactions to school bonds in recent years. In 2011, they turned down two out of three school bonds. But last year, voters approved a school proposition about the same size at the one this year.

The rest of this year's bond propositions:

• Proposition 2, $2.6 million, for ambulances, public transit vehicles and technology, various public safety upgrades, and assessment the city's dams and bridges. This proposal would add 85 cents in new taxes for each $100,000 worth of property, including annual operations and maintenance costs. The debt would be repaid by all Anchorage property owners.

• Proposition 3, $20.5 million, for roads and drainage projects in the Anchorage road service area. Only taxpayers in the service area -- basically the Anchorage Bowl, minus the Hillside, Chugiak, Eagle River and Girdwood -- will repay this debt. For those taxpayers, approval of the proposition means an additional $9.13 in taxes for each $100,000 worth of property.

• Proposition 4, $2.5 million, for Anchorage Bowl parks and trails. This includes $1.6 million for resurfacing, bridge and lighting upgrades to the Chester Creek bike trail and greenbelt, $100,000 to finish the Veterans Memorial in the Delaney Park Strip, and $800,000 for other park improvements around the Anchorage Bowl.

Chugiak, Eagle River and Girdwood residents will not pay for the parks proposition. For Anchorage Bowl taxpayers added costs would be about $1.36 for each $100,000 worth of property if the parks bonds pass.


Reach Rosemary Shinohara at or 257-4340.