State of the City
Recently I gave a "State of the City" update to the
Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. It's an annual tradition where the mayor provides
business leaders with a review of the past year and an update about what municipal
officials are doing to foster economic development in Anchorage. Below you'll find excerpts from
the speech. Feel free to send me feedback at email@example.com
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State of the City: A long-term plan for fiscal sustainability
The Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) manages an enormous
number of assets. Here are some interesting statistics about what falls under
The MOA also provides:
to 30,700 citizens
clean water to 270,000 citizens
The MOA also manages:My administration and I have been
in office for just more than a year now. In that time, we've taken important
steps to make city government more efficient. Part of that effort resulted from
the challenge we walked into in 2009. Just about a month after entering office,
we discovered a $9 million shortfall for the remaining six months of the year;
this was in addition to the $17 million shortfall already addressed by Acting Mayor
Claman and his staff.
Adding to the challenge was a $100
million unfunded liability to the police and fire retirement fund, and city
savings accounts that had been essentially wiped out. Add this to mandated
increases in personnel costs, and we had our work cut out for us.
I am proud to say we met the
challenge head on. An immediate travel and hiring freeze, the formation of a
cost containment committee, executive pay cuts, and a small reduction in the
city workforce allowed us to balance the books at the end of 2009. The effort
also paid off in the form of restored city savings accounts, which in turn,
boosted our bond rating by Fitch, a major rating agency.
After dealing with the 2009
challenge, it was time to tackle the 2010 budget. Because the national economy
was still shaky at best, we decided to hold the lines on spending and property
taxes; our logic was that in a time of financial upheaval, it wasn't fair to
ask taxpayers to dig even deeper into their pockets when their own economic
futures were uncertain.
We also were successful at
streamlining several processes and making municipal government more efficient.
We modernized and standardized several IT functions, implemented LEAN
technology and asked city departments to demonstrate results to the public so
that budget choices could be made more effectively. As a result, we were able
to find sustainable savings while minimizing impacts to citizens.
Courtesy: Anchorage Museum
Even with all of that progress, a
sizeable challenge remains in 2011. Because of continued stock market
volatility, a drop in tourism (and the bed and car rental taxes it provides),
and ever-increasing costs of paying city employees, we face a gap again in
2011. I know some people are weary of hearing about budget shortfalls and
potential reductions in city government but the reality is that money coming
into the city is just not keeping up with expenses. It is my job as mayor to
manage our finances in a responsible way, and that's my commitment to citizens.
We've hosted a number of community dialogues in order to talk to citizens about
the financial challenges ahead, and I am encouraged to see so many residents
engage in the process.
continued... you can see the remainder of this article "State of the City" at our website or download the original PowerPoint presentation
Mayor Dan Sullivan