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Anchorage mayor asks for state money to rebuild addiction treatment center

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: January 5, 2018
  • Published January 5, 2018

On top of his usual request to fix Anchorage's deteriorating port, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wants the state Legislature to help pay for a $52 million alcohol and drug abuse treatment center.

The requests appear in Berkowitz's annual "wish list" to the Legislature. The document, submitted right before the start of the new session in Juneau, calls for money for local projects as well as the passage of legislation that would benefit Anchorage.

Berkowitz and his deputies hope money for the port and the new drug and alcohol treatment center will appear on the November ballot as a statewide bond.

Since he was elected mayor in 2015, Berkowitz has made $300 million for the port his main request. City officials say the port has been crippled by corrosion and is within a decade of closing its docks without major repairs.

Ona Brause, Berkowitz's chief of staff, said the administration is more hopeful this year than in prior years that some port money will come through. In his 2018 budget, Gov. Bill Walker included $40 million for the port, after a number of meetings with the Berkowitz administration, Brause said.

Walker's budget did not include money for the efforts to build a new alcohol and drug abuse treatment center in Anchorage. The Berkowitz administration has proposed a 200-bed remodel of the Salvation Army's Clitheroe Center near Point Woronzof to include a wide range of services. Brause said the administration planned to meet with lawmakers about the project.

Berkowitz submitted his draft package of requests to the Anchorage Assembly on Friday. Members of the Assembly had their own ideas for what should be included.

Vice-chair Forrest Dunbar and Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance said they wanted to ask for more local control over the regulation of app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft.

Assemblyman John Weddleton suggested asking for clearer guidelines for the recall of elected officials, pointing to a divisive recall election that took place in Homer last fall. State laws are vague around the grounds for a recall, Weddleton said.

The Assembly will discuss changes to the wish list at its second meeting in January before forwarding it to the Legislature.

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