You may want to watch
If you ever were going to attend or watch an Anchorage Assembly meeting, tonight’s would be a top choice. The panel has a full plate and you can watch the show at www.muni.org/watchnow.
Along with myriad other items, its agenda includes an extension of the payment date for the first half of a property owner’s annual tax bill until Oct. 31, and the second half until Dec. 31. If the Assembly fails to act tonight, the first half installment is due tomorrow, with the second half due Sept. 15.
Given current economic circumstances that seems a welcome idea.
Then, there is Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s proposal to set up a city Office of Equity and Justice, led by none other than a Chief Equity Officer at $180K a year.
We need it, too, because COVID-19, the mayor says, has exposed “persistent structural inequities that have required municipal response to mitigate the disproportionate social determinants of health and equity facing people of color and low-income residents.”
All of that despite the city already having an Office of Equal Opportunity, the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, the Ombudsman Office and the Resilience Subcabinet, which we still have no clue as to what it does.
A new piece of bureaucratic machinery? Not a good idea.
Then, there is the agenda’s pièce de résistance: City purchase, at no less than $22.5 million in federal CARES Act funding, of two hotels, the Bean’s Cafe campus and an Alaska Club building to house the city’s 1,100 or so homeless. It would remove $300K from the tax rolls every year and cost taxpayers about $7 million annually.
Oh, and Assembly members also will have to change the zoning ordinance to allow all that, while opening up much of Anchorage to such facilities.
The city would use the federal CARES Act funding – supposed to help individuals and business in these trying times – in a “lease with potential purchase” dodge to get around the act’s language specifically mandating the act’s funding be used only for temporary, emergency shelter. The city wants to uses the CARES money until revenue from the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric and the new 5 percent retail alcohol tax are available.
It should be a full night. It begins at 5 p.m. and you should watch all this so you will know who to credit and curse at the next election.