Anchorage voters in April, along with sifting through a dizzying array of mayoral candidates, will be asked to decide a $1.84 million recurring, annual property tax to complete a technology overhaul for the Anchorage Police Department.
The proposed upgrade includes an update of the department’s computer-aided dispatch and record management system “at risk of catastrophic failure” – and leasing police body cameras.
The Assembly late last month voted to put the question on the April municipal ballot. Assembly members Forrest Dunbar, Meg Zaletel, John Weddleton, and Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson voted “yes.” The levy, by the way, is the brainchild of disgraced former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
Assembly members Crystal Kennedy, Jamie Allard and Kameron Perez-Verdia, who say the money should be found in the existing municipal budget, voted no on placing the question on the ballot.
If passed by voters, the increase would cost homeowners about $5.32 per every $100,000 in assessed value of their property. It also would raise the tax cap.
We heartily support our police and want them to have the very best equipment available. We support the idea of body and car-mounted cameras to record interactions between police and civilians to resolve any questions that might arise. What we cannot support is the idea of an automatic, recurring $1.84 million tax.
The city already has an annual budget north of $550 million and it already has a new liquor tax, a new gasoline tax, along with millions freed up by federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding. That does not even include $1 billion from the sale of its Municipal Light & Power utility to the Chugach Electric Association.
Why in the world does it need to hit property taxpayers with an annual, recurring property tax increase?
It seems so unnecessary to us.