Assembly members want to add money to budget proposed by mayor

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly has released its list of budget amendments, which largely add or restore money to projects or departments that Mayor Dan Sullivan did not include in his proposed budget last month.

The amendments include funds for annual operating expenses like:

• An addition of $600,000, from Assemblyman Patrick Flynn, to reverse a planned increase to city bus fares.

• A $260,000 increase to the library budget, sponsored by five Assembly members, to speed up Internet access and purchase more materials like books and subscriptions.

• A $130,000 boost, from Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson and Assemblymen Tim Steele and Dick Traini, for the city to hire a homelessness coordinator. That's a position the city funded several years ago but cut after the employee was hired as the city ombudsman.

There are also amendments that add money for one-time projects in the city's separate capital budget. Those include:

• $6 million, from Assemblyman Bill Starr, for upgrades to the city's 911 system, and consolidation of the fire and police dispatch centers, which are currently separate.

• Two proposals to add as much as $4 million to support renovations at Loussac Library.

• Just under $1 million for an electronic plan review system.

• $100,000 for a fenced dog park at Valley of the Moon Park, sponsored by Gray-Jackson, Steele and Traini.

• $15.5 million for reconstruction of Spenard Road from Hillcrest Drive to Benson Boulevard, sponsored by Steele, Traini and Gray-Jackson.

There are several other amendments that would provide money for road projects in various Assembly members' districts.

Traini and Gray-Jackson are also submitting an amendment that would put funding for a proposed tennis and recreation facility in Turnagain into next year's budget -- effectively delaying an effort by Sullivan and the Anchorage Tennis Association to build it sooner. It's unlikely, however, that the measure will pass.

The Assembly will consider the amendments Tuesday.

If they pass, Sullivan has the opportunity to strike them with a line-item veto when he considers the full budget, according to Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall. Any vetoes would require a vote by at least eight of the 11 members on the Assembly to overturn.