Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/20/1994 09:09 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 up for consideration.                                                         
 JOSH FINK, Aide for Senator Kelly, said SB 203 was introduced by              
 the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee at the request of the                 
 Municipality of Anchorage.  It requires unified municipalities to             
 provide law enforcement services on an area-wide basis.  There are            
 three unified municipalities in Alaska - Juneau, Anchorage, and               
 Sitka.  Both Juneau and Sitka provide area-wide police coverage.              
 The Municipality of Anchorage provides police service to                      
 approximately over 80% of Anchorage.                                          
 MR. FINK explained that the issues are public safety and equity               
 among Anchorage residents.  Hillside and portions of the southeast            
 side of Anchorage have repeatedly rejected paying for police                  
 coverage.  As of this summer the State Troopers are not directly              
 hooked up to the City's new and enhanced 911 system and emergency             
 response will be severely hampered.  There are 7 elementary and 2             
 secondary schools in the non-service area.  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 for           
 the teachers and students in that area.                                       
 The second issue is fairness.  While these residents do not pay, as           
 do the rest of Anchorage residents, they receive free emergency               
 backup from the Anchorage Police Department and State Troopers at             
 their homes.  They receive the benefit of free service when working           
 or shopping or engaging in other activities while in the rest of              
 the city.  They should pay for these services.                                
 MR. FINK said there is an alternate proposal from Senator Kelly               
 allowing the assembly of a unified municipality to set up a police            
 service area by ordinance overriding the charter provisions on                
 requiring a vote for the police service area.  This idea was taken            
 directly from the Task Force on Governmental Roles Report 1992 in             
 which a number of legislators and community leaders participated.             
 He said the State Troopers want to work more in the bush since they           
 have already suffered closure of 8 stations.                                  
 Number 108                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if anything prevented the Hillside from                  
 setting up their own police force.  MR. FINK said there would be              
 the problem of vigilantism.                                                   
 SENATOR TAYLOR noted there is a very high cost to support a police            
 officer in downtown Anchorage.  State Troopers are cheap compared             
 to police.                                                                    
 MR. FINK said he didn't think they could lawfully do it.                      
 Number 145                                                                    
 SENATOR PHILLIPS asked for a cost comparison.  MR. FINK said                  
 according to recent figures, Trooper coverage would cost $4.7                 
 million and the city would cost $4.5 million.                                 
 Number 164                                                                    
 DUANE UDLAND, Deputy Chief, Anchorage Police Department,  pointed             
 out that on the salary issue there really isn't a lot of difference           
 in cost between a trooper and an officer.  He explained that                  
 recently a good portion of the Hillside has come into the police              
 service area.  Now there are about 16,000 people who are served by            
 Troopers - most of them in Hillside.  That would be about the 4th             
 largest city in the state and it is one of the wealthier areas and            
 has the tax base to do it.                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR said he can sympathize with his testimony, but he is           
 embarrassed by the amount of salaries paid in his Department.  They           
 are much more than in any other area of the United States.  He                
 thinks they are out of line.                                                  
 MR. UDLAND said he didn't have much control over the salaries, but            
 recognized it as an issue.                                                    
 Number 262                                                                    
 SENATOR RIEGER, from South Anchorage, said the neighborhoods                  
 created a task force and sent out a survey to find out what kind of           
 coverage they wanted and what they would be willing to pay for.               
 The people on the Hillside did regard police coverage as important.           
 Most important was serious crimes and neighborhood patrols.  The              
 lowest priorities were routine traffic patrols, neighborhood watch,           
 etc.  More that half were willing to pay a significant amount of              
 property tax for police coverage.  They have rejected paying for              
 Anchorage police department coverage, they have never rejected                
 paying for trooper coverage.  The survey indicates overwhelmingly             
 that they would pay for it.                                                   
 The most popular option was using State Troopers supported by                 
 taxes.  Management of Department of Public Safety has opposed the             
 The fiscal note presented in the House Bill was modeled on Senator            
 Taylor's proposal of an entire police department the size of the              
 City and Borough of Juneau covering south Anchorage.                          
 SENATOR RIEGER encouraged the Committee to allow the Hillside to              
 pay for the full cost of Trooper coverage.  He noted that property            
 taxes pay for the cost of commerce by Hillside residents in the               
 Number 414                                                                    
 SENATOR ADAMS asked if the Hillside would be willing to pay for a             
 contract with the Troopers.  SENATOR RIEGER answered yes the is an            
 unquestioned willingness to pay.                                              
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked him if he had proposed language.  As a                   
 courtesy to Senator Kelly he would like to work with him first.               
 SENATOR TAYLOR said he had a real concern about local improvement             
 districts being utilized for sewer, water, fire department                    
 services, etc.  You end up with overlying multileveled boards and             
 groups for something that should be done on an area-wide basis.  As           
 these communities expand, no one wants to pay for the high cost of            
 downtown.  Setting up separate areas sounds good until you end up             
 with real conflicts on policy calls between the service areas.                
 SENATOR RIEGER said the only other problem he could see now is with           
 the road service areas which seems to be working quite well in                
 Anchorage - especially in the road maintenance area where there               
 isn't a tug of war to see who gets their streets plowed first.                
 Number 470                                                                    
 JOE MERDE, Anchorage Assembly, said they have tried to deal with              
 this issue on the Assembly two or three times.  He disagrees with             
 Senator Rieger that the Hillside pays their fair share of the                 
 downtown area.  It's ludicrous to think they are not a part of                
 Anchorage, because they pay for a lot of other services.                      
 He explained that right now there are 54 police officers who put in           
 a lot of overtime.  They need more police officers to bring that              
 balance down to the right pay level a police officer should make.             
 SENATOR RIEGER responded that the Hillside does not belong to                 
 Anchorage which is the fundamental problem that led to the                    
 compromise in the charter in the first place.                                 
 Number 514                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if the municipality cost recovered on a                   
 response to an emergency.  MR. MERDE answered that it does.                   
 Number 520                                                                    
 C. E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Public                  
 Safety, said they now feel the population they are dealing with is            
 around 20,000, but will not refute the 16,000 person figure.                  
 His Department and the Administration is opposed to a contractual             
 basis for Trooper services based on a public policy perspective.              
 Previous administrations have taken the same position.                        
 They are trying to remove the Troopers from urban settings and put            
 them into rural Alaska.  Municipalities that have the means should            
 police themselves.  The second part of the public policy issue                
 deals with instability and the cyclic nature that contracts present           
 for public safety management.  Under proposed legislation,                    
 contracts would not only be allowed for the Hillside, but to every            
 other municipality in the state.                                              
 SENATOR LEMAN asked for a chart indicating Trooper protection.  MR.           
 SWACKHAMMER said he could provide that information and explained              
 there are several residential areas where they provide police for             
 areas that can't provide for themselves.                                      
 TAPE 94-4, SIDE B                                                             
 Number 580                                                                    
 SENATOR RIEGER proposed a population threshold size as a solution.            
 SENATOR TAYLOR pointed out that they have found ways to make it               
 work although, there should be a uniform policy.                              
 SCOTT BRANDT-ERICKSON, Assistant Municipal Attorney for Anchorage,            
 stated his support for Senator Kelly's committee substitute.  He              
 referred to Article X Section 5 of the Alaska Constitution                    
 regarding service areas.  He spoke to the many cost issues of a               
 separate service area.                                                        
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated that when you break down the costs by the               
 residential or commercial areas the greatest cost would probably be           
 in the downtown core area where the highest level of crime and the            
 greatest level of concentration necessary for patrol would seem to            
 be located.  Mr. Erickson expressed the need to determine if                  
 proposed cost figures include all of the costs to maintain a                  
 separate service area.                                                        
 Number 455                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RANDY PHILLIPS expressed his intention to meet with                  
 Senator Kelly and Senator Rieger on Monday to discuss SB 203.  He             
 held over SB 203.                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects