A potential $30 million local budget shortfall has some of the Anchorage Police Department's junior officers concerned about layoffs.
More than two dozen officers gathered to meet with an Alaska State Troopers recruiter on Wednesday. The APD Employees Association organized the meeting after hearing about possible cuts to the department.
If layoffs happen, APD's newest hires would be the first to go. They recently graduated from the police academy at a cost to the city of about $100,000 each, according to APDEA president Derek Hsieh.
Officers like Robert Block, who moved with his wife and 1-year-old child from Minnesota to Anchorage to join APD, are now trying to weigh their options.
"We just bought a house in Eagle River, I found out we have another kid on the way -- all of that just kind of makes me nervous," Block said. "I don't want to lose my pay, my insurance; I want to be able to take care of my family."
Mayor Dan Sullivan said balancing the budget is a challenging task, and every city department is affected.
"We don't want to lose highly-trained people, not in any department, so the goal is for us to try to fill this gap without losing good personnel," Sullivan said. "I'm interested in what the union will be proposing in terms of concessions that will allow us to save money and maybe save jobs."
The mayor will present the budget to the Anchorage Assembly by Oct. 1. Assembly Chair Ernie Hall says he and his fellow Assembly members will work hard to avoid any job cuts, but said with labor costs making up 80 percent of the budget, layoffs are likely in order to bridge the budget shortfall.
"It's inevitable that there is the possibility that some jobs will be lost," Hall said. "What you hope every time that happens is you can do that with attrition."
The Assembly is already discussing several work sessions before passing a budget on Nov. 13. Hall encourages the public to submit ideas on how to balance the budget.
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