Money added to budget for APD clerk

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 20:00
Assembly members hopeful to fill ER vacancy; chief says part-time at least

Eagle River could benefit from the more than $500,000 the Anchorage Assembly added to Mayor Dan Sullivan’s proposed 2012 budget.

The Assembly, which passed a $452.3 million budget Dec. 6, added about $79,500 for a records clerk for the Anchorage Police Department. Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander and budget/finance chair Bill Starr are hoping the money will be used to staff the Eagle River substation.

Ossiander said the lack of regular clerk hours leaves those in need of assistance waiting long periods of time. She has passed that information onto Police Chief Mark Mew.

“He’s now very aware of the problem,” Ossiander said. “I certainly hope it will staff us out here, but it’s the chief’s call.”

During the meeting, Mew said the money could fund one full-time, entry-level clerical position. Prior to the vote on the amendment, Mew said he would try to staff the Eagle River substation.

“If this money is restored, I would attempt to fill the Eagle River position as much as absolutely possible,” he said.

The budget includes costs associated with hiring 30 new police officers. Adding clerks is necessary as the police force grows, Ossiander said during the meeting.

“In order to be productive, I think you need the concurrent amount of clerical support so that you don’t have … expensive officer positions doing clerical duties,” she said.

Though Starr wants the money used for Eagle River’s substation, the Assembly isn’t going to pressure Mew, he said.

“It’s in his hands. We’re not going to force the issue,” Starr said.

On Dec. 13, Anchorage Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said Mew will use the money to staff the substation — at least on a part-time basis.

“The chief is committed to putting staffing out there,” Parker said. “They’re still not sure if they’re getting a full-time person or if it will be part time.”

Parker said the department will continue to work on improving the substation’s ability to serve the public.

“We would like to get someone out there full time,” he said.

Starr and Ossiander were also in favor of adding $50,000 for library materials. The amendment passed 9-2, but an amendment reinstating two vacant library positions failed 5-6, with Ossiander and Starr voting against it.

Both were against paying $40,000 for a shuttle service to the new Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center. That amendment passed 7-4.

Ossiander and Starr were also against reversing a decision to turn three full-time Parks Department jobs into four part-time positions. The amendment — which added more than $144,000 to Sullivan’s proposed budget — retained the full-time positions and passed 6-5.

Though Starr wanted to decrease taxes, he said he could live with the approximate 2 percent increase.

“All things considered, I think the public is well served by this budget,” Starr said. “It was pretty much as the mayor presented.”

The Assembly held three public hearings on the budget — one more than required.

“It was a pretty good process,” Starr said.

The only disappointment was that the budget wasn’t passed unanimously, Starr said.

Paul Honeman was the lone vote against it.

The “no” vote by Honeman — who is running for mayor — was the only time politics entered the budget process, Starr said.

Honeman’s amendment — to help pay for the ventilation of a cat shelter — didn’t sit well with Starr, either. That proposal failed 4-7, with Starr and Ossiander both against it.

Starr said Honeman’s vote on the budget was a way to draw attention to himself as a mayoral candidate.

“It’s a political world, but it doesn’t have to be run by politics,” Starr said.

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