Anchorage voters will decide on a number of bond proposals in the spring city election, in addition to an alcohol tax, Assembly and school board seats, and on-site marijuana consumption. Ballots will be mailed out March 17.
Bonds are a way a school district or local government raises money for repairs or other capital expenses, similar to a mortgage or loan. Voters authorize a certain amount of bonds to be sold to investors, and the principal is repaid with interest over time.
Every year, the city issues new bonds but also retires old bonds. For example, a school bond from 20 years ago could expire as a new school bond is issued.
For that reason, the tax increase information on each bond proposition below is not necessarily a net increase to property taxes. The new bonds will be offset by old bonds being retired.
That keeps the overall tax burden fairly stable, said Jason Bockenstedt, chief of staff for Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
Because the Municipality of Anchorage has multiple service areas, people at different addresses will vote on different bond proposals.
The election will again be held by mail, meaning there will not be in-person voting centers. Ballots will be mailed March 17, and the actual election is April 7. The last day to register to vote is March 8.
Here’s a look at the proposals:
School bond - Proposition 2
This year, the Anchorage School District is asking for almost $83 million in bonds, with much of the money going toward repairing buildings damaged by the November 2018 earthquake.
That’s more than what the district usually proposes for school bonds, which have run between $50 million and $60 million. But district officials say property taxpayers are getting a bargain: They’re vowing to sit out next year, moving to an every-other-year bond plan.
In addition to a two-year package, the school board and Assembly approved asking voters for money to repair a charter school housed in a school district building. It’s the first time money for a charter school has been approved to go on the bond. It’s a unique situation — Aquarian is the only charter school in Anchorage in a district building.
The school board and Assembly did discuss splitting the bond to separate out the money for Aquarian, but officials said putting everything into one package gives it the best shot at being approved by voters.
The bond would cause an $18.45 property tax increase per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The bond would include:
• About $70 million to repair earthquake damage at 14 schools. Repairs at Gruening Middle School in Eagle River are the most costly at $39.3 million, followed by East High School at about $11 million and Eagle River High School at $4.5 million.
• $6.8 million for a new roof and other maintenance at Aquarian Charter School.
• Nearly $3.3 million would pay for safety and code upgrades.
• $3.3 million to fund the design to replace Inlet View Elementary School.
Roads and stormwater bond - Proposition 3
Anchorage is proposing a $43 million bond within the Roads and Drainage Service Area for construction and maintenance of the road and storm drain system.
The service area roughly encompasses the Anchorage Bowl, minus the Hillside.
The bond would raise property taxes by $12.19 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Also, approval of the bond would increase the city’s tax cap by a maximum of $313,000 per year, which would result in a $1.15 annual increase in property taxes for maintenance of the new infrastructure.
The road and stormwater bond amount is in line with past years under the Berkowitz administration. Roughly $8 million of that money goes toward repairing the stormwater system each year.
Berkowitz wants to establish a stormwater utility to repair that system, rather than bonding for it.
Capital improvements - Proposition 7
To fund capital projects, including improvements to the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center and the Loussac and Mountain View libraries, the city is asking voters to approve $5.4 million in bonds.
Property taxes would increase by $1.20 per $100,000 in assessed property value. The tax cap would go up by $52,000 for maintenance and operations, causing an additional 15-cent property tax increase annually.
Anchorage fire protection - Proposition 4
Anchorage wants to bond for fire department facility improvements, a new ladder truck and to expand the fire department’s vehicle maintenance shop. The burden would be placed only on residents inside the fire service area, which encompasses 100 square miles of the Anchorage Bowl. The bond proposal is for about $4 million.
Approval of the bond would increase property taxes by 49 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value for owners within the fire district.
Parks - Proposition 5
Anchorage is asking voters to approve a $3.95 million bond for trail and park improvements. The bond would increase property taxes by $1.02 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Approval would also raise the tax cap by $197,000 each year for maintenance and operations of the new facilities, leading to an additional property tax increase of 66 cents per year.
Police - Proposition 6
To purchase new police vehicles and fund capital projects, the city is asking voters to approve a $2.4 million bond. If approved, it would raise property taxes by 55 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Approval would also raise the tax cap by $30,000 annually to fund maintenance and operations for the new vehicles and infrastructure, creating an additional property tax increase of 9 cents.
Safety access roads - Proposition 1
This bond, about $1 million, would fund the construction and maintenance of new segments of safety access roads on Boundary Avenue, Mountain Air Drive and Kullberg Drive. It would increase property taxes by 25 cents per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Girdwood projects - Proposition 10
The city is proposing a $2.2 million bond in the Girdwood Valley Service Area, which would pay for a new community building, among other things.
The bond would only increase property taxes within the Girdwood Valley Service Area by $28.70 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Public safety and transit - Proposition 8
The city is putting forth a $5 million bond to upgrade the city’s public safety radio network and purchase items like cardiac monitors, and also replace public transit buses and improve bus stops.
That would cause a property tax increase of $1.13 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Renting emergency medical supplies - Proposition 9
As an alternative to purchasing medical equipment through bond money in Proposition 8, Anchorage voters could instead approve renting and leasing cardiac monitors, chest compression systems, automated external defibrillators, power gurney systems and other medical supplies by approving Proposition 9.
That would cost $830,000, increasing the tax burden by $2.40 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Because the city would lease rather than purchase the equipment, approval of Proposition 9 would take $400,000 off of the $5 million Proposition 8 bond proposal. It would also eliminate the need to bond for more than $11 million over the next 10 years to purchase medical equipment.
It would also eliminate $280,000 in debt authorized by voters in 2019.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Proposition 2 would put $3.3 million toward funding the design and replacement of Inlet View Elementary School. The money would only fund the school’s design.