ANCHORAGE, Alaska — After taking a few days to look over Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan's proposed 2011 city budget, Anchorage Assembly members are reacting to some of his decisions. Some are proposing alternative plans, while others say the city has to stomach the cuts.
While some Assembly members want to look for new ways to save money in Sullivan's budget, others look to the future and say the budget situation won't get any easier.
Assembly member Paul Honeman says he's been poring over Sullivan’s budget.
“I'm looking at, with a really close eye, at some executive appointees that work on the administration, even on the Assembly level, that may or may not have -- not a value, but could we continue delivery of services without that position?” Honeman said.
Honeman says he wants to look at contracting out some management positions at City Hall, using the finance department as a hypothetical example.
“We could defund that 20 positions, and instead put out a request for proposal on the street and have finances done by a contracted service,” Honeman said.
Sullivan says he's looking into the concept, but that it's not the Assembly's job to suggest such detailed changes.
“Quite frankly, when we have a budget for the department, their job is to approve that department budget up or down, not to tell us within that department how that money gets spent,” Sullivan said. “They don't get to micromanage the individual spending within the department.”
Assembly member Jennifer Johnston has also been looking over the budget. Sshe's not a fan of some of the closures, but says she understands why they're happening.
“One was the library on Dimond -- it bothers me, but I feel when you look at the utilization, it's those folks with bus routes are able to get to Loussac,” Johnston said.
Sullivan says tough cuts have to happen now because if they don't, the situation will only be worse in the future. He says the problem can't be solved by temporary grants.
“That's why we're hesitant on grants: the grants are one-time money, you can maintain services for one or two years depending on the grant, but then you have the same problem a year or two later,” Sullivan said.
The next step is for Assembly members to officially propose changes to Sullivan's budget before approving it by the end of the year.
Contact Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org