It’s a vote that’s sending city hall controversy to the November election.
Tuesday night, the Anchorage Assembly ended the debate on when the public will vote on a referendum on the labor law known as AO-37.
It was a decision that was split narrowly in a 6-5 vote.
Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson, a long opponent of putting the issue on the November ballot, said the price of delaying the vote may now come out of the tax payer’s pocket.
“It’s costly, you know that’s $345,000 that our tax payers will have to pay for no reason,” said Gray-Jackson.
In a memo about the economic impacts of moving the election, the City Clerk’s office says a concurrent vote in November could cost more than $345,000. A cost that would have been zero if the referendum was on the regular municipal election date in April.
According to the memo, that’s because there is no additional costs for adding a ballot measure to a regularly scheduled election.
“The difference is this, yes there is a state election but we cannot piggy back on the state’s election. We have to have a separate ballot because it’s a municipal election,” said Gray-Jackson.
The $345,000 cost is described as " conservative estimate, according to the memo.
“If it’s run as a concurrent election then it would be two ballots and of course my preference is to see the municipal election in total run in November,” said Assembly member, Chris Birch.
Birch said it’s beneficial for an issue as important as AO-37 to be voted on in November.
He said that’s because the voter turnout in November is almost 50 percent compared to an April municipality election which drops to 20 percent.
“I think that’s vital that we have a high voter turnout on municipal issues and that will happen in November as evidence that we’ve seen in the past during the 2004 election,” said Birch.
The State Division of Election’s office said it hasn’t met with the Municipal Clerk’s office yet to figure out the logistics of holding both elections on the same day.
The state said it’s too early to tell at this point what will happen.
What is clear is that Anchorage voters will decide the long awaited fate of AO-37, and having that say will come at a cost.