City sets aside $827,500 to settle accusations against Bronson administration

Anchorage city government has set aside $827,500 for future payment of settlements, including in accusations made against Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration by two fired executives.

The Assembly on Tuesday approved the annual budget revisions, which included the $827,500 for settlements. The Assembly specified that the administration can’t pay out any settlements without further Assembly approval.

In its proposed changes to the 2023 city budget, the administration had added the money in for payment of “settlements,” but did not specify what settlements it would pay.

But during Tuesday’s meeting, Office of Management and Budget director Courtney Petersen confirmed to Assembly members that the money would only go toward one or more of three possible settlements. Those involve Heather MacAlpine, former director of the city Office of Equal Opportunity; Amy Demboski, former municipal manager; and Roger Hickel Contracting, the construction management company involved in a controversial and stalled project to build a homeless shelter.

Assembly Chair Christopher Constant on Wednesday said he doesn’t yet know for sure to which parties the city will direct the money, or how much of the $827,500 each will receive.

However, “reason would tell us that it can’t be Hickel” because the company is suing for a much larger sum, Constant said.

Roger Hickel Contracting Inc. is suing the city for an alleged breach of contract and failing to deal in good faith. The company claims the city owes it more than $2.4 million for work it did on the proposed navigation center and shelter site in East Anchorage. It’s also asking for damages and attorney fees.


MacAlpine has filed two lawsuits against the city — one in state court and one in federal court — accusing Bronson of firing her in retaliation for investigating alleged illegal acts by the mayor’s leadership team.

Demboski, who Bronson fired in December, subsequently issued a scathing demand letter accusing the mayor and his officials of violating city laws, acting unethically, discriminating against women and creating and tolerating a hostile work environment.

The Assembly and administration are planning to hold a special meeting on May 5 to discuss the settlements during a closed session, Constant said. It’s likely the Assembly will vote on a resolution to pay one or more settlements after the closed session, either later in the meeting on May 5 or during the regular meeting on May 9, he said.

“We don’t know what Amy’s asked for, or what Heather’s asked for, or what they’ve offered to either. So that’s the functional reality — we won’t know until the fifth,” Constant said.

The mayor’s office did not respond to emailed questions on Wednesday about the settlements, and about who the money will go to and in what amounts.

Demboski’s lawyer, Scott Kendall, declined to comment. Attorneys for MacAlpine and Roger Hickel Contracting did not respond to requests for interviews.

Constant on Tuesday night proposed an amendment, which members approved, to change language in the budget revisions, making clear that the administration must submit to the Assembly a request for approval before paying settlements to MacAlpine, Demboski or Roger Hickel Contracting.

Municipal Attorney Anne Helzer on Tuesday said the administration had no objection to that amendment.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at