Proposition 2 raises concerns for Road Board
The Chugiak/Birchwood/Eagle River Rural Road Service Area Board has several questions about part of a $2.6 million area wide general obligation bond that will be presented to voters April 2.
While the Road Board cannot take a position on the ballot initiative, it unanimously supported a letter of concern — written by board member Randy McCain — seeking clarification about Proposition 2 be sent to Mayor Dan Sullivan at its meeting Monday, March 25.
McCain’s letter lists eight questions, many of which ask if Prop 2 violates current statutes. A major concern is regarding $200,000 slated for bridge and dam rehabilitation and whether or not it would result in double taxation for local residents.
Chugiak-Eagle River residents are already taxed to pay for maintenance of local roads, bridges, dams, etc., and shouldn’t have to pay for similar projects in the Anchorage Bowl, McCain said in an interview a day prior to the meeting.
“We’re already paying our fair share out here,” he said.
The Road Board was blindsided by the initiative, McCain said. The Municipality didn’t notify the board, he said, nor was it given a chance to review Prop 2 and present comments to the Assembly.
If the Muni can affect a service area without its knowledge and consent, that sets a precedent McCain said he doesn’t want to see.
“The whole thing is kind of alarming,” he said.
Chugiak Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander agreed.
“Talk to us before you change the rules,” she said.
It’s not the price tag (the bond would cost less than a dollar for every $100,000 of assessed property) that Ossiander is worried about, but rather the standard it would set.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle,” she said.
McCain’s letter, citing the Road Board’s nearly $2 million fund balance and recent lowering of the mill rate at the February meeting, also questioned if Prop 2 would result in Chugiak-Eagle River residents improperly paying for services outside of their service area.
McCain wasn’t the only board member who had questions about the initiative.
“I’ve been puzzled by the whole thing,” chair Tony Vita said.
Board member Bill Holland said he planned to urge his Eagle River Valley Community Council constituents to seek answers to the same questions in McCain’s letter.
McCain originally wrote a draft resolution outlying his concerns, but Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler told him Monday in an email that could be problematic for the Road Board because it “could be viewed as material of a partisan nature.” Under state law, boards cannot distribute material of a “partisan nature” about ballot measures, Wheeler wrote.
CBERRRSA could appeal to the Ethics Board, Wheeler said, but he couldn’t guarantee a decision would be made before Election Day.
McCain, who said the Road Board was being “muzzled” by the Muni, wrote a letter of concern to comply with the law.
McCain — who repeatedly stressed the Road Board wasn’t taking a position on Proposition 2 — said he believes the part of the initiative he’s concerned about was an accidental oversight. Nevertheless, he said, answers are needed.
“We have to ask the questions to the administration,” McCain said. “Why is this on the ballot?”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].
Don’t forget to vote April 2
Polls will be open Election Day on Tuesday, April 2 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Visit http://neighborhood.muni.org to find your polling location.
Three candidates are vying for the District 2 Anchorage Assembly seat, which represents Chugiak-Eagle River. The candidates include Pete Mulcahy, Amy Demboski and Bob Lupo.
Other contested Assembly races include District 3 (West Anchorage), where Tim Steele, Cheryl Frasca and Phil Isley are running for a one-year term and District 4 (Midtown), which has Andy Clary challenging incumbent Dick Traini.
Ernie Hall (District 3, West Anchorage), Paul Honeman (District 5, East Anchorage) and Jennifer Johnston (District 6, South Anchorage) are running unopposed.
There are two seats open on the school board. Don Smith and Bettye Davis are vying for Seat A while David Nees, Eric Croft and Stephanie Cornwell-George are running for Seat B.
For more election information, visit www.muni.org/departments/assembly/clerk/elections/pages/default.aspx.