The Alaska Municipal League, also called AML, held its annual conference last week in Anchorage. Members of both the Kodiak City Council and the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly attended.
Pat Branson is the mayor of the city of Kodiak. She was among the officials from the Kodiak archipelago who attended this year’s Alaska Municipal League’s annual conference. She actually became its board president at the gathering. She had served the past two years as one of its vice presidents.
She says the purpose of the league is to help Alaskan villages, cities, and boroughs come together and advocate for their needs to the state government.
“The Alaska Municipal League represents municipalities across the state in advocating for bills and funding that are important for municipalities to really stay open.”
Many of the municipalities in Alaska belong to AML. At its annual conference, the delegations come together to vote on whether to submit different resolutions to Alaska’s legislature. The resolutions are put forward by AML and individual municipalities. There were nine proposals delegates had to decide on this year. Branson says all but one passed.
She says the proposals ranged from AML saying it was against a state sales tax to asking Alaska’s legislature to provide a sustainable and balanced budget for its citizens. One topic in particular that came up at the conference was the state’s Community Assistance Program. Branson says the program distributes funding around the state to better communities.
“That money comes into municipalities to use as they see fit and where the need is the most.”
Kodiak uses it for a variety of things, including providing funding to local nonprofits. Branson says every year the Community Assistance Program is at risk of being cut from the state’s budget, which AML is against. Branson says many small rural communities depend on it.
“A lot of them in the rural and bush areas, [if they] did not receive community assistance their governments would go away.”
Along with passing a resolution supporting the Community Assistance Program. AML passed proposals asking the legislature to not increase the rate the state charges communities for public employee and teacher retirement systems and to support the full funding of the Alaska Municipal Harbor Facility Grant Program in the fiscal year 2019.
The one resolution that failed was submitted by the Kodiak Island Borough. It proposed changing who could qualify for the Senior Citizen and Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption.
The proposals that did pass will be submitted to the legislature and AML will continue to pursue them in the new year.