The Municipality of Anchorage has found a new contractor to operate the service that picks up intoxicated people from city streets and gives them a place to sober up.
In April, NANA Management Services, a subsidiary of NANA Regional Corp., said it was opting out of its contract to run the Anchorage Safety Patrol as well as the Anchorage Safety Center on Third Avenue. A spokesperson told the Anchorage Daily News at the time that the company, after eight years of holding the contract, was making a "business decision" aligned with efforts to focus on security operations in Anchorage and Outside.
Last month, the Anchorage Assembly approved a one-year, $1.97 million contract ushering in NANA's replacement. The new contractor, Goldbelt Security LLC, is a subsidiary of Goldbelt Inc. an Alaska Native corporation based in Juneau.
City purchasing officer Ron Hadden said the city negotiated with the firm to lower its original bid by about $134,000. But the new contract still costs about $211,000 more than the most recent agreement with NANA, creating a sizeable gap in the municipal health department's 2015 budget.
Officials are now looking at ways to bridge that gap, said Melinda Freemon, director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
"It's the cost of doing business," she said.
Goldbelt was the only entity to bid on the contract, Hadden said. The contract comes with up to four one-year extension options.
Derek Duncan, vice president of Alaska operations for Goldbelt, said in an interview that many of the corporation's 3,500 shareholders, almost all of whom are Alaska Native, live in Anchorage.
"We are constantly looking for ways to grow and provide for the socioeconomic well-being of our shareholders," Duncan said. In 2012, more than two-thirds of the 3,400 people that used the service were Alaska Native, city data show.
Under the contract, Goldbelt will be charged with running the van service that picks up inebriated people from Anchorage streets, as well as operating the Anchorage Safety Center on Third Avenue, which gives people a place to stay while they recover.
Duncan said Goldbelt was "well aware" of the risks NANA took on with the contract, as well as the challenges in providing the services. In 2012, NANA made 15,000 pickups, or an average of 41 a day.
"But we're also aware of the success they had in helping those in need," Duncan said. "We commend them for the numerous lives they have saved over the years."
He said Goldbelt will be providing essentially the same service as NANA, such as a 24-hour van service. To make for a smooth transition, the firm plans to hire on all the existing staff with the patrol and the safety center, or about 35 employees, Duncan said.
"If we can make an impact on fellow Alaska Natives struggling with alcohol and substance abuse problems, it will be worth ... taking on the risk from this contract," Duncan said.
He added: "It's going to be challenging, to say the least."
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of Goldbelt Inc. shareholders.