What about our deal?
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is having a fit of pique because the House Finance Committee voted to eliminate state reimbursement of local school bond debt across Alaska.
The mayor told KTUU the move is dishonorable; a breach of an obligation; that a deal, by golly, is a deal.
Make no mistake, if the state ditches the reimbursements it would drop a $43 million bill in Anchorage’s lap. That likely means more than a $240 property tax increase for the owner of an average $350,000 home.
The pain from dropping the reimbursements would be felt statewide. Alaska’s school districts are carrying outstanding debt of about $900 million.
Who could have see this coming? Almost anybody who was paying attention. The state, now facing a $1.6 billion budget gap, never guaranteed to pay bond costs. Never. So, given that, why did city and school officials bond us into this position? What did they think was going to happen when oil prices dropped and the state came up short?
The same people who over the years have gotten into this mess now want to continue tapping state savings accounts and dip into the Permanent Fund earnings reserve to ensure the status remains quo. What happens when there is absolutely nothing left? What then?
Yes, a deal is a deal – except for oil taxes and exploration credits, mind you – but the deal our elected officials made with us to spend our money wisely and within reason is a deal long broken.
Talk about dishonorable.