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Berkowitz proposes nearly flat budget for 2021

(Anne Raup / ADN)

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is proposing a budget that largely mirrors the status quo.

The $548 million proposal is about $5 million over the previous year, accounting for an increase of less than 1%.

The Berkowitz administration presented the budget to the Anchorage Assembly in a Friday work session. The Assembly will introduce it at its Tuesday meeting. The Assembly will hold at least two public hearings on the budget, and plans to vote on it Nov. 17.

Anchorage’s Office of Budget and Management Director, Lance Wilber, said in a Friday work session that the 2021 budget will allow the city to continue addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, while providing essential services.

“The overall continuation of spending is a .8% difference going up,” Wilber said. “So, it’s basically flat.”

Wilber said their could be some first-quarter adjustments come April to account for unforeseen changes brought by COVID-19.

“Building a budget in a pandemic -- at least right now and predictable projections into the near future -- there’s a lot of unknowns,” Wilber said.

Property taxes are expected to increase by about $100 for an average $350,000 home. That’s because of the structure of Anchorage’s tax cap, which includes property taxes and other taxes under the cap. This year, revenue under the tax cap is slightly down, so by default property taxes will rise to make up for the loss.

According to budget documents, non-union employees are not getting salary increases, though some union workers have contracts that give them a pay raise of up to 1.2%. Budget documents show the city is bringing on three new positions, one to help with construction permits, a human resources employee and a position for the city’s new Office of Equity and Justice.

The Berkowitz administration is proposing a $56.4 million bond package for capital improvements. The bulk of that, $35.8 million, is for road and traffic projects.