On July 24, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced a civil emergency in the city. This is only the second time in Anchorage history that a civil emergency has been declared.
What’s the reason? Budget cuts.
Mayor Berkowitz claims that the impending budget cuts coming from Juneau will cause an emergency-level crisis, increasing homelessness and demand for city services.
A civil emergency is more than just a declaration, however. It allows the mayor’s office to bypass normal procedures for certain city functions, like procurement and zoning, but it also allows the mayor to bypass the tax cap under municipal charter 14.03(b)(5).
Section 14.03 Tax Increase Limitation
(a) Except as provided in this section, the total amount of municipal tax that can be levied during a fiscal year shall not exceed the total amount approved by the assembly for the preceding year by more than a percentage determined by adding the average percentage increase in the Federal Consumer Price Index for Anchorage from the preceding five fiscal years plus the average percentage growth or loss in the Anchorage municipal population over the preceding five fiscal years as determined by the state department of community and regional affairs.
(b) The limitations set forth in subsection (a) do not apply to the following:
(6) Taxes required to fund the cost of an emergency ordinance enacted pursuant to 10.03 of the Municipal Charter.
Section 10.03 states that the mayor needs three-quarters of the Anchorage Assembly to vote in favor for the civil emergency declaration to remain in effect, and he got the votes earlier today.
Hold on to your wallets, folks!