Legislature(1993 - 1994)

11/03/1993 09:09 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS introduced  SB 203  (MANDATORY MUNICIPAL               
 POLICE SERVICES) as the next order of business.                               
                                                                               
 JOSH FINK, committee aide, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee,                 
 stated SB 203 was introduced by the committee at the request                  
 of the Municipality of Anchorage.  It will require unified                    
 municipalities to provide law enforcement services on an                      
 areawide basis.                                                               
                                                                               
 There are three unified municipalities in Alaska:  Anchorage,                 
 Juneau and Sitka.  Both Juneau and Sitka currently provide                    
 areawide police coverage.  The Municipality of Anchorage                      
 provides police service to approximately 80 percent of the                    
 city.  Hillside and some other portions of Anchorage have                     
 repeatedly rejected paying for police coverage.  The current                  
 system on the Hillside in which police officers respond to a                  
 call only if there is a car available does not provide                        
 sufficient protection to the hundreds of residents, teachers                  
 and students in that area.                                                    
 If enacted, SB 203 would override any municipal charter                       
 prohibition or local area vote.                                               
                                                                               
 Mr. Fink noted there was a draft committee substitute for the                 
 committee's consideration to address the concern that the                     
 original bill did not contain a mechanism to fund the new                     
 officers that would be required in the new areas served.  It                  
 would allow for the mill rate being adjusted in the new                       
 service areas to cover the additional cost.                                   
                                                                               
 DUANE UDLAND, Deputy Chief, Anchorage Police Department, noted                
 the city administration's support for SB 203.                                 
                                                                               
 Deputy Chief Udland said that from his own personal                           
 perspective, it is a question of equity.  At one time he lived                
 on the Hillside and he felt it was odd that he lived in                       
 probably the richest area in town and yet he was receiving                    
 free police service.                                                          
                                                                               
 Deputy Chief Udland said things have changed, and it is at a                  
 point now where having areawide police service makes a lot of                 
 sense.  He added that the State Troopers and the Anchorage                    
 Police Department do an excellent job on the Hillside, and it                 
 really isn't an issue of who does the better job; it is an                    
 issue of taxes.  Right now, residents of the Hillside don't                   
 have to pay for the service.                                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS referred to Section 4 in the draft committee                    
 substitute and asked if that transition section was necessary.                
 He suggested eliminating it, and if the legislation passes,                   
 the Act take effect July 1, 1994 versus waiting until January                 
 1, 1995.  DEPUTY CHIEF UDLAND answered that he thought a                      
 transition period was needed because there is a lag time for                  
 the department to hire new people and get them into place.                    
                                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN requested information be provided to the                        
 committee on what areas are providing police protection.                      
 MAJOR GLEN GODFREY, Deputy Director, Alaska State Troopers,                   
 stated the Department of Public Safety's and the Division of                  
 Alaska State Troopers' support for SB 203.                                    
                                                                               
 Major Godfrey pointed out that Juneau and Sitka have been                     
 successful in doing this type of enforcement, and it has                      
 relieved the Division of Alaska State Troopers from that type                 
 of duties, allowing them to concentrate on their primary                      
 duties such as highway patrol, traffic investigation,                         
 statewide search and rescue, and providing support to rural                   
 areas and to the statewide Village Safety Officer program.                    
                                                                               
 Currently, there are 259 positions in the Division of Alaska                  
 State Troopers, of which 27 are vacant.  There will be a class                
 graduating from the Alaska State Trooper Academy next month                   
 and they will be filling in their vacancies with those new                    
 troopers.                                                                     
                                                                               
 MARY FROHNE, representing the Hillside East Community Council                 
 in Anchorage, stated the Hillside residents are not against                   
 paying their fair share for police protection.  She said they                 
 have been served well in the past by the Alaska State                         
 Troopers.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Ms. Frohne said to override the provision in their charter,                   
 which gives them the ability to vote on what services they                    
 should receive in the Hillside area, is not a good policy. She                
 said if they were given the choice of being served by either                  
 the Alaska State Troopers or the Anchorage Police Department                  
 they would probably select the troopers.  If they were forced                 
 to vote on the city police, it would probably fail again.                     
                                                                               
 BARBARA WEINIG, President of the Rabbit Creek Council in                      
 Anchorage, stated that when unification came about, the                       
 service area concept and being able to choose what services                   
 you wanted was very important, and it is still extremely                      
 important to her area.  She believes it is a bad precedent for                
 the state to enact legislation that would override local                      
 charters.  She also voiced their willingness to pay for State                 
 Trooper services.                                                             
                                                                               
 Responding to questions from Ms. Weinig, MAJOR GODFREY said                   
 at this point in time, they plan on keeping their trooper                     
 stationed in Girdwood, specifically for highway patrol and                    
 traffic enforcement.  In the last year, there have been eight                 
 traffic fatalities on that stretch of highway.  SCOTT BRANDT-                 
 EARECKSON, an assistant municipal attorney, said the troopers                 
 currently have jurisdiction within the Chugach State Park                     
 area, and he believes that with the passage of the legislation                
 they would retain that jurisdiction.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he has talked to several people on the                     
 Hillside and one of their big complaints was that they had to                 
 pay a higher mill rate in that area.  He asked if there were                  
 different mill rates in various sections of the municipality                  
 for police protection.  SCOTT BRANDT-EARECKSON answered that                  
 within a particular service area where the service is being                   
 provided, the mill rate is uniform.  Different sections of                    
 town have different mill rates based upon different services                  
 that they receive.  The budget director for the Municipality                  
 of Anchorage, clarified that if the Hillside were to come in                  
 everybody would be paying the same amount for police                          
 protection.                                                                   
                                                                               
 JUDY MOERLEIN, President, Home and Landowners' Organization,                  
 Inc., said they have found that the people are not unwilling                  
 to pay their fair share for police protection, but they feel                  
 that the troopers have a certain ability to handle more rural                 
 situations.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR RIEGER commented that he thinks the feeling in South                  
 Anchorage is that they've never had a chance to really express                
 in a vote what they would like to see.  They've had proposals                 
 put before them which are not acceptable, and when they get                   
 turned down, it gets distorted into being a perception that                   
 there is an unwillingness to pay.  He added that he thought                   
 that any reasonable proposal which regarded trooper coverage                  
 would be passed overwhelmingly by these people.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS pointed out that Eagle River is                        
 probably more rural in nature than the Hillside area, but                     
 several years ago they voted to pay for police protection in                  
 Eagle River.  He said the sentiment of his constituents is                    
 that the Hillside should be paying for police protection, and                 
 sooner or later this issue is going to have to be resolved.                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
 TAPE 93-29, SIDE B                                                            
                                                                               
 BARBARA WEINIG said that during all of the talks and hearings                 
 that they had on this issue, prior to even the task force                     
 being formed, one of the things that came to light was that                   
 the Municipality of Anchorage was charging Southeast Anchorage                
 for a level of service that they couldn't provide, and that                   
 the level of service they could provide would be in response                  
 to incidents level because there was no way of effectively                    
 patrolling many of the roads in Southeast Anchorage.  She                     
 reiterated that the people felt that the troopers could                       
 provide a better level of service and they were willing to                    
 contract and pay for that service.                                            
                                                                               
 PATTY SWENSON, Staff to Representative Con Bunde in Anchorage,                
 asked if under SB 203 the Hillside residents will be able to                  
 pay for just the services they receive.  The budget director                  
 for the Municipality of Anchorage answered that property taxes                
 do discriminate; they discriminate on the basis of value, so                  
 the people in higher assessed valuation areas, such as the                    
 Hillside, do pay more for the services they receive.                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if there is anything being done                  
 right now for a ballot proposition for self-determination on                  
 the question.  JUDY MORELINE answered that there isn't at this                
 time, but that they are trying to find the mode which will                    
 most expeditiously accomplish a State Trooper agreement                       
 between them and those people who have said that they want to                 
 pay for that service.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if a fiscal note has been provided by the                 
 Division of State Troopers on what it would it cost them to                   
 adequately police the Hillside area.  MAJOR GODFREY responded                 
 that he has not seen one, and Senator Kelly requested that a                  
 fiscal note be provided.                                                      
                                                                               
 There being no further witnesses present to testify on SB 203,                
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS adjourned the meeting at 1:09 p.m.                     
                                                                               

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