Proposed 2020 Anchorage budget creates new positions for police, homeless support

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Friday, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz presented his proposed 2020 budget for the municipality to the Anchorage Assembly. The budget shows a 2.4% increase from the current 2019 budget, totalling $539.2 million.

“The 2020 Proposed Budget prioritizes public safety and community well-being.” Mayor Berkowitz wrote in the overview. It seeks to do this by creating new positions in law enforcement and increasing support for homelessness programs.

The budget proposes funding for 10 new positions at the Anchorage Police Department, four new patrol officers for trail safety, and six new support staff positions.

On the subject of homelessness, the budget proposes funding for the Mobile Intervention Team, a group that helps homeless people get connected with services, as well as support for the Stolt Building and Mid-Town Day Shelter to match private investments. It also includes funds for a homeless camp cleanup/abatement crew, and creates a new Homeless and Behavioral Health Systems Coordinator Position.

It also seeks to add a Women, Infants, and Children Program Manager to the municipality’s Public Health Division Staff.

One area that the budget does not address is the nearly $49 million in state money that would be used to reimburse old school bond that was cut by the Dunleavy Administration earlier this year. However, Anchorage School District CFO James Anderson says this is standard operating procedure.

“When we pass our budget, our school board will approve it in February,” Anderson says. “It goes to the Municipality in March, and that’s when the final lock-in for any increased taxes would occur.”

The budget is now in the hands of the Anchorage Assembly. They’re scheduled for a work session on Oct. 18, two public hearings on Oct. 22 and Nov. 5, and an approval on Nov. 19.

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