So it goes
Looking for a good example of why people do not trust their governments? You need look no further than the story beneath the headline “How an effort to fund Anchorage’s downtown flowers for the long term fizzled” in the Anchorage Daily News.
In 2010, gardeners, downtown merchants and city officials trying to ensure funding for flowers in the city’s flowerbeds launched the Festival of Flowers to head off recurring budget battles over flowers and set up an endowment fund, eventually to reach $1 million, the newspaper reports. It raised $10,000 in its first year.
“Volunteers enthusiastically sold quilt raffle tickets and potted plants, auctioned off the city’s trademark yellow-and-gold hanging baskets and helped children plant marigolds in Town Square Park,” it reports.
What happened to the dough? you may ask. That is what city gardeners were asking when the current administration recently tried to plug its budget deficit by killing off flowers. The answer? The money was spent for other things. It went into the city’s parks and recreation account, and – surprise! – “nearly $6,000 from that account was spent in 2016 on landscaping in Town Square Park, after Mayor Ethan Berkowitz called for the large broken fountain in the center of the park to be torn down,” the ADN reports.
Some of it went to the Anchorage Dowtown Partnership, then the Anchorage Parks Foundation. It was spent by the city parks department, the newspaper reports.
None of this should be a shock. General obligtion bond money does not always go where it is intended. Sin taxes earmarked for treatment of smoking or drinking get lost in budgets and used for other things. Residents of Eagle River even voted to tax themselves years ago for a new park. The money was grabbed by the city and used for something else. And on and on and on. If there is money – no matter its lofty, avowed purpose – government will spend it on what it wants.
Now, Berkowitz is asking for a 5 percent retail liquor tax to help the city fund its efforts to combat homelessness and its attendant problems. His administration says that is what the money would be used for. Really.
Ask those who believed in the Festival of Flowers idea what they think.