ANCHORAGE, Alaska—After budget reductions in 2010 and 2011 resulted in layoffs, eliminated positions and cut service, Anchorage Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson wants to know why city financial documents show that city departments underspent by nearly $20 million in 2010.
This year's budget casualties include the Dimond-Samson Branch Library and some bus service.
"I'm disappointed there were employees laid off, I'm disappointed bus service was cut and then we have $19.5 million left over at the end of the year," said Gray-Jackson.
She says Mayor Dan Sullivan's financial team should have been able to spot the surplus coming.
"I just think that the administration could have planned a little bit better," Gray-Jackson said.
Today, Sullivan defended his budget and finance teams, saying they've been tracking the extra money.
Sullivan said it's not appropriate to call the money a "surplus" at this point because the final expense statements haven't come in yet. He said the $20 million figure would likely be drastically reduced after those final reports are audited.
Sullivan also pointed to the city's many legal cases that it must prepare for. He says if there is any extra money at the end of the year, it could be used to help protect the city if it has to pay out money as a result of those legal disputes.
"We have at least two major environmental remediations, we've got legal actions against the municipality, all of which if they come in against us, I can guarantee you there won't be a surplus," said Sullivan. "In fact, there will be continued liabilities going forward."
The city is expecting a ruling in one case involving Anchorage Waste Water Utility rates -- currently in front of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska -- by mid-February.
"If we lose that suit, we have a $50 million liability to pay," said Sullivan. "If [Gray-Jackson has] got an idea of where to come up with that money, I'd love to hear it."